Tunde Opalana, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed its expectation to have a re – enacted Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Anambra State governorship election this year.
Having a new Electoral Act, according to the Commission, is one of the identified five critical areas of concern ahead of the Anambra guber poll.
The Commission believe that repeal and re-enactment of a new Electoral Act would guarantee the conduct of free, fair, transparent elections; deepening technology in the electoral process and rolling out electoral voting machines for the Anambra governorship election.
This and other concerns formed part of INEC’s resolutions at the close of a five-day Workshop for Review of INEC Voter Education Manual in Keffi, Nasarawa State on Saturday.
This was contain in a statement in Abuja on Saturday by Chinwe Ogbuka, Assistant Director, Publicity with the Commission.
According to the statement, of greater concern is the expanding of voters’ access to polling units “in the context of a growing population and 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”.
Equally 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.
National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye at the occasion said 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.
To achieve this, Okoye 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 IVEC 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 further stated that 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 charged 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.
The National Commissioner called for the building of multi-sector coalitions for the sustenance of the electoral process, the task of conducting successful elections, and consolidation of democracy adding that the Commission is determined to clean up the Voters Register and register all those that are eligible and constitutionally qualified to be registered.
Okoye, on behalf of the Commission thanked the Westminster Foundation for Democracy for sponsoring the workshop and urged it to consider replicating his initiative at state level so as to build the capacity of INEC Staff at the state and local government levels.