By Nathaniel Gana
18th January 2022
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged stakeholders in the electoral process to tackle the challenge posed by low voter turnout in elections just as it asked political parties to take up their obligation of mobilising voters for elections.
Speaking at a sensitization forum for Broadcast Media Practitioners in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the forthcoming Area Council elections scheduled for Saturday 12th February 2022 yesterday, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, observed that the Commission’s mandate under Section 2 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) is to conduct Voter and Civic Education and promote the knowledge of sound democratic election process.
But voter mobilization and getting the voters out to vote on election day, according to him “is one of the core responsibilities of the political parties”.
He said: “The Media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) must continue to assist and engage in multi-stakeholder action to encourage voter participation and engagement”.
On preparations for the FCT Area Council elections, the IVEC Chairman disclosed that elections will be conducted in the newly created polling units across the six Area Councils. He also affirmed that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would be deployed, while polling unit results would also be uploaded to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for the FCT, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, said preparations for the Area Council elections were in top gear. He explained that the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) of new registrants have been printed and are now available for collection. He said: “New registrants, those that applied for transfer and replacement of damaged or lost PVCs are encouraged to approach the Commission’s Area Council offices and collect their PVCs.
The REC also explained that stakeholder engagements, grassroots sensitization in collaboration with CSOs and other pre-election activities ahead of the elections were on course. He appealed to the media to make the successful conduct of the elections a priority, just as he canvased for their support through citizens’ sensitization and mobilization.
The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, underscored the important role of the media in elections. He said the forum was put together due to INEC’s “deep respect for the media as a critical and indispensable partner in the electoral process”.
He continued: “This is a tradition, and it has been beneficial to INEC in many ways. When INEC speaks, acts, issues press statements, reacts to false allegations or debunks conspiracy theories, and Nigerians get to hear about it, it is because you, media professionals, have reported on it through your respective channels”.
“Use the immense powers that you have for good causes. Continue to support INEC to conduct free, fair, credible, and inclusive elections. We are not asking for blind support. We are always open to constructive but not destructive criticisms”.
On his part, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) FCT Chapter, Emmanuel Ogbeche, applauded the Commission for its continued recognition of the place of the media in social mobilization for and participation in the electoral process.
He implored his colleagues to “see the engagement as a patriotic duty of availing your various platforms and programs to harp on the electoral process, while the Commission also does not lose sight of the business aspect of the media”.