Owerri – The Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari said the agency had perfected plans to tackle void votes, vote buying and vote selling across the country to ensure a credible election.
Abari made this known when he flaged-off a nationwide campaign against void (invalid) votes in Owerri with theme “Minimizing the Incidence of Void Votes in 2019 General Elections in Nigeria.”
The DG said that vote buying was a breach of the law and a dent on the credibility of the nation’s electoral process.
He said the 91 political parties and almost 70 presidential candidates participating in the polls had posed additional challenges on proper voter education.
Abari noted that NOA, in line with its mandate of public enlightenment and feedback from the public to government, had identified certain traits in voter behaviour.
The DG said that if the traits were not tackled through mass sensitization and awareness, it could slow down democratic process.
He listed challenges of void votes, vote buying and vote selling and the need for peaceful elections as among the worrisome voter behaviours which the agency would remedy in the build up to the forth coming general elections.
The NOA boss said the agency would take her sensitization exercise to all the 774 LGAs in the country to educate the voters on how to vote and vote correctly.
He said they would also ensure that the physically challenged persons are not disenfranchised in the elections.
Prof. Francis Ezeonu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Imo, said the state had 3,523 polling units, 4,752 voting points and over 2 million registered voters.
He lamented that 650,000 PVCs were yet to be collected by their owners despite several public enlightenment campaigns.
Ezeonu said that INEC would between Jan. 16th and Jan. 27th commence fresh measures to remedy the worrisome situation.
He appealed to politicians to educate the voters properly about the logos of their parties, assuring that INEC would similarly educate them on how to thumb print properly.
“70 gubernatorial candidates are participating in the election in Imo which is the highest in the country followed by Rivers state.
“Your votes will count and we will be at the polling units by 8a.m and we will not deploy materials from the LGAs but will use Registration Area Centers (RACS) to get closer to the polling units,” he said.
Mr Vitus Ekeocha, State Director of NOA, earlier in an address, said the agency had since the 2019 election sequence was released, swung into educating and mobilising citizens towards a free, fair, credible, transparent and violent-free elections.
“In recent times, too many votes have been declared void, null, invalid or spoilt which is not good for our fledgling democracy. it is time to make every vote count in our elections.
“Moreover, the incidences of void votes in Nigeria’s election have been a matter of concern to election stakeholders nationally and internationally.
“Most times, the number of void/invalid votes during elections is too high that it could have determined or swayed the results of the elections to the choice of voters if prevented or minimised,” Ekeocha said.
According to him, there had been aggressive engagement of critical segments using various strategies such as, road walks on vote buying, and zonal flag-off of voter education campaign in the 3 senatorial zones of the state.
Ekeocha said that the nationwide flag off would be followed with those of zonal, state and LGAs to further step up the exercise at the grassroots for the voters to be well informed. (NAN)