Ahead of Saturday governorship and state house of assembly elections, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Wednesday tasked stakeholders in North-west zone to ensure peaceful elections by avoiding violence and vote buying.
NOA Director General, Dr Garba Abari, who made this known during a two-day zonal workshop for citizens groups and other stakeholders on civic and voter education, sponsored by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), said that the sensitisation and enlightenment have taken place so far in three zones with Kaduna hosting the fourth zonal outing.
Abari, who was represented by the NOA Project Director, Mr David Akoji, said the workshop was aimed at addressing high amount of rejected, invalid and void votes recorded in the last presidential and National Assembly elections, to avoid a repeat in Saturday’s polls.
“The main thrust of this capacity building for the seven states of North-west is to build the stakeholders capacity to assist NOA to enlighten citizen on how to vote to avoid vote buying, invalid and void votes. This event is sponsored by Open Society Initiative for West Africa and we have done this training four states, Kaduna is hosting the fourth zone. We did sensitisation before the last elections and we are still doing it.
“We have so many political parties and their symbols are similar so the voters needed to be enlightened on how to recognise the symbol of their choice party. We are working in our offices in the 774 local government areas, we are showing samples of the parties’ symbol on a large poster to enable the voter identify the one he wants to vote.”
For the Kaduna state Head of Service, the workshop was good as it afforded Nigerians the opportunity of enjoying voter education, and civic enlightenment.
The HOS, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of Head of Service, Malam Ibrahim Jere, said: “this should have taken place since, but we should repeat the process on and on. There are lots of people that don’t know how to vote. Kaduna state we have lots of commitments to voters education.
“This is not just about 2019 elections, but there are people who just turned 18, people should know who they want to elect and how to vote. This workshop can address the high number of invalid, void votes we had in the last elections.”
Also speaking, the Executive Director of African Center for Leadership Strategy and Development, Mr Monday Osasah, lamented the poor turnout that characterised the last presidential and National Assembly elections, while calling for intense mobilization to cover the gaps noticed during the last polls.
“There was something missing in the last presidential and National Assembly elections and what was missing was the poor turnout which did not reflect the number of voters in each state. There should have been mobilisation of voters to be part of the elections. This workshop will help in mobilising the people to come out and determine who should govern them for them to reclaim their sovereignty.”
The Kaduna state Director NOA, Malam Zubeiru Galadima blamed politicians and political parties for not educating their party members and supporters enough, just as he urged them to engage and sensitise their supporters more to enable them know how to vote and their votes would count.