By Douglas Okoro
Abakaliki – The National Orientation Agency (NOA), on Monday held the South-East multi stakeholders dialogue on peaceful, credible and violence free elections in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi capital.
The pre-election conference was designed to equip, sensitise, educate and mobilise the people for full participation in the forthcoming general elections.
The dialogue session was also aimed at bringing the various stakeholders to brainstorming on ways to make the election peaceful, credible, transparent, violence free and fair.
The dialogue session was attended by stakeholders drawn from political parties, religious groups, women organisations, security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) among others.
Dr Garba Abari, the Director General of NOA, who spoke, said that the dialogue was part of efforts to sensitise, educate and mobilise the citizens to participate in the electoral process.
He said that the 2015 general elections presented a number of challenges and noted that the dialogue session would provide a platform for stakeholders to address them.
“Voter apathy, low turnout of electorate, intimidation, ballot box snatching and other unwholesome practices characterised the previous elections.
“The electoral body, the police, political parties and the electorate must be determined and do the needful so that the outcome of the elections will not only be credible, free and fair, but will be adjudged one of the best conducted elections in the history of Nigeria ,” he said.
He said that the agency had fully mobilised its staff in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, covering the 774 local government areas in the country to carry out mass voter education and sensitisation campaigns.
He said : “Democracy has come to stay and we must protect it by ensuring that political parties and other stakeholders create an atmosphere that will increase citizens’ confidence in the electoral process.
” The INEC which is the nation’s electoral umpire is doing everything possible to ensure the success of the polls.
“The security agencies are also training and re-training their personnel to protect lives and property during and after the elections.
“We expect the political parties to equally embark on voter education for their members on how to vote correctly, giving the number of political parties that will feature on the ballot paper. ”
Meanwhile, Prof. Godswill Obioma, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ebonyi who presented a paper , said that it was the duty of the various stakeholders to ensure peaceful and credible conduct of the elections.
He said that INEC was a neutral body committed to conducting seamless polls and maintained that every strategic arrangement had been put in place to make the general elections peaceful and credible.
“The 2019 general elections in Ebonyi will be the best elections ever conducted in Ebonyi and every plan has been concluded to ensure the success of the polls ,” he said.
Mr Muhammad Mustafa, Ebonyi Commissioner of Police, said that police and other security operatives were collaborating to ensure that security of every resident was guaranteed before, during and after the elections. (NAN)