Electoral awareness in Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy, received a boost yesterday as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure mass participation in the forthcoming 2023 General Elections.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) which covered the development, the partnership involves sensitizing Voter Education Providers comprising members of civil society organisations and other stakeholders to work towards elimination of voter apathy during the 2023 elections.
At the opening of sensitisation programme on Monday in Ibadan, the UNDP Team Lead, Governance, Peace and Security, Mr. Matthew Alao, underscored the importance of voter education in any successful election.
“Voter education is crucial to a successful election. It assists election management body in its task of delivering a free, fair, effective, transparent and credible election.
“Voter education is an enabler that assists the voting population to access basic voter information, make informed decisions and choices of political parties and candidates to vote in an election especially in a multi-party democracy like Nigeria.
“Civic and voter education helps to counter misinformation, disinformation and hate speech by laying the fact bare before the voting public,” he said.
Alao emphasised the need to have improved and effective participation in the 2023 general elections.
He said: “Effective participation of the voting population put at about 95 million is central to the triumph of the 2023 elections.
“It behoves every citizen, institution and civil society organisation to be aware of important voting information and procedures, share and enlighten one another on the information and turn out massively on the election day to exercise their franchise by voting for parties and candidates of their choice.
“This will help to consolidate Nigeria’s democracy, prevent violence, sustain peace and stability, and foster economic prosperity.
“We congratulate INEC for the successive progress it recorded in the recent elections especially in Ekiti and Osun states and urge the Commission to continue to improve on these achievements to make the 2023 general elections a record-breaking event in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, Alhaji Abiodun Onikate-Amosu, the Administrative Secretary, INEC in Oyo State, charged the voter education providers to ensure that voters are well educated and to disseminate voting information properly.
Onikate-Amosu, who said the concept of voter education was to provide the electorate with basic information about participating actively before, during and after an election, urged the participants to carry out mobilisation of the voting populace adequately.
The administrative secretary said that the workshop was one among many that was planned toward enriching the knowledge and skills of the participants with regard to the electoral process.
He added that the workshop would acquaint participants with new technology innovations put in place by INEC, “thus serving as a yardstick at educating the electorate.
“As voter education service providers, your focus to the teeming voting populace should be based on: how to educate the voters on voting; how electorate should thumb print ballot paper and how to let the electorate know that there votes will count.”
He further assured the voting populace that the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) has come to stay in the nation’s electoral process.
According to him, BVAS doubles as device for accreditation as well as the uploading of the polling unit level result sheets to the INEC Result viewing (IRev) portal in real time on election day.
He charged the participants to maximize the opportunity of the workshop to enable them engage better as they disseminate information received to the teaming voting populace.
Corroborating the administration secretary, Mrs Alaba Adeniyi, Head of Voters Education and Publicity, INEC, Oyo State, said the workshop was aiming to enhance voter education providers in the Southwest zone.
Some of the participants, Mrs Wuraola Owolabi, Mrs Modupeola Sobukola and Mr Martins Alo said the sensitisation would go along way to ensure full participation by the populace in the general elections and be abreast of the new electoral acts.