By Emmanuel Oladesu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has identified five critical areas of concern and challenges likely to confront the Commission in the conduct of the Anambra governorship election this year and the 2023 general elections.
These areas of concern include expanding voter access to Polling Units in the context of a growing population, the growth of new settlements across the country and validation of the Voters roll and Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) in the shadow of the COVID- 19 pandemic.
Others are the amendment of the Electoral Act that would improve the conduct of free, fair, transparent elections; deepening technology in the electoral process and rolling out Electoral Voting Machines for the Anambra Governorship election.
Also of great concern to the Commission is how to increase Voter turnout in future elections and how to effectively manage electoral success recorded in the last two off -season elections in Edo and Ondo States.
The Commission’s concern was expressed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye while speaking at the end of a five-day Workshop for Review of INEC Voter Education Manual, held at Sawalino Hotel, Keffi, Nasarawa State.
The INEC Voter Education Manual is being reviewed by the Department of Voter Education and Publicity (VEP) with the aim of identifying and including best methods of designing voter education messages to increase citizens’ participation in the electoral process. The exercise is being supported by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
For the Commission to achieve the concerns enumerated above, the IVEC Chairman challenged the department (VEP) to design new, creative and innovate messages that would address the electoral concerns and challenges of the Youth and Students population.
The Chairman reminded VEP Staff that in designing voter education messages, they must be able to compete effectively on the social media and “our narratives and messages must be clear, concise and believable.”
Okoye said while designing voter education messages, “INEC must take on board societal changes and dynamics” and urged the participants to design new methodologies of delivering Civic and Voter Education in the context of a pandemic.
He informed participants that the Commission has resolved to sustain the momentum of the successes recorded in the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections and also increase voter turnout in elections through the provision of access to the Polling Units.
Realising the fact that the Commission cannot succeed alone in the task of conducting successful elections, the Commissioner said: “We must build multi-sector coalitions for the sustenance of the electoral process and consolidation of democracy.”
On the issue of Voter Register, Okoye said that the Commission is determined to clean up the Voters’ Register and register all those that are eligible and constitutionally qualified to be registered.
The Commissioner commended the department for its robust voter education and publicity activities in the past years which led to the successes recorded by the Commission adding, “without VEP, we would not have achieved the new face of INEC.”
The Chairman, on behalf of the Commission thanked the Westminster Foundation for Democracy for sponsoring the workshop and urged it to consider taking this initiative down to the state level, so as to build the capacity of INEC Staff at the State and Local Government levels.
Source: The Nation