Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Ahead of the governorship election in Anambra State and the 2023 general election, 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 elections.
According to the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, these areas of concern include, expanding voter 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.
Others are repeal and re-enactment of a new Electoral Act that would guarantee the conduct of free, fair, transparent elections; deepening technology in the electoral process and rolling out Electoral Voting Machines for the Anambra State Governorship election.
Okoye said that 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.
Okoye spoke Saturday in Leggings, Nasarawa State at the close of a five-day Workshop for Review of INEC Voter Education Manual .
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 is supported by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
Okoye said for the commission to achieve the concerns enumerated above, the department (VEP) must design new, creative and innovate messages that would address the electoral concerns and challenges of the youth and students population.
He 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 that, “without VEP, we would not have achieved the new face of INEC.”