President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abdul-Waheed Odusile, has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the 2019 general election is conducted in a free, fair, and credible manner and in line with international best practices.
The Special Adviser to the Governor of Bayelsa State, on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, quoted Odusile as having made the comment during a condolence visit to the Governor Henry Seriake Dickson at his Toru-Orua country home of Sagbama Local Government Area of the state yesterday
He demanded improved general election in 2019 and called on INEC to put the necessary machineries in place to conduct hitch-free elections.
He said that credible election was the only way to show progress in the country’s democratic journey.
Odusile, who drew the attention of INEC to the issue of vote-buying during elections, charged the electoral umpire to tackle the abhorrent act.
He enjoined the Nigerians to expose those behind the dastardly acts to security agencies.
He said vote-buying and other electoral malpractices could tarnish the credibility of the electoral system assuring that the NUJ would promote transparency in the forthcoming election.
The NUJ President who decried the slow collection of Permanent Voters Cards across the country, commended state governments that had declared public holidays to enable the electorates to get their cards.
Odusile commiserated with Governor Dickson on the demise of his mother, Mrs. Goldcoast Dickson, and commended him for his plans to set up a foundation that would run a cancer centre in her memory.
He described it as forward looking investment in human capital development, stressing that the cancer centre, which aims to promote free screening and sensitization, would benefit the people of the state, Niger Delta, Nigerians and generations yet unborn.
“As the 2019 general election approaches, I want to appeal to the electorates to exercise their voting rights, not to sell their votes. I also call on the electoral umpire, the INEC to organise free, fair, credible elections in line with international best practices.
In the last couple of elections, we have seen some measures of improvements and we expect that the 2019 election would be an improvement. This is the only way we can make progress in our democratic journey which started in 1999. No doubt there are challenges but they are not insurmountable.
“The number of people who have collected their PVC’s in the country is still low. Nigerians should know that voting is their civic responsibility. They don’t need to be forced to go and do it.
“We have seen some state governments declare public holidays for people to go and collect their PVCs. In spite of that, we still have a large number of PVCs that are yet to be collected. People can’t be complaining of bad governments when they did not participate in choosing the government.
“If they have their PVCs, as it is their right, they should not demand for money to vote. In fact, they should show people who offer them money to security agencies.
For us Journalists, we have been talking to ourselves about the need to promote transparency in the election because malpractices especially vote-buying is a major challenge we are facing. So we will expose such acts which could tarnish the credibility of the electoral system.