AS politicians step up horse-trading ahead of subsequent elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has listed five main areas of likely challenges that could confront the commission in the conduct of the election and the 2023 general election.
These areas include expanding voter access to polling units in the context of a growing population, 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 the amendment of the Electoral Act that will improve the conduct of free, fair, transparent elections; deepening technology in the electoral process and rolling out Voting Machines for the Anambra State governorship election.
Equally of great concern to the Commission is how to increase voters turnout in future elections and how to effectively manage electoral success recorded in the last two off -season elections in Edo and Ondo states.
The national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, identified the areas at the end of a five-day workshop at the weekend for Review of INEC Voter Education Manual, held at Sawalino Hotel, Keffi, Nasarawa State.
The 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 exercise is being supported by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. For the INEC to achieve the concerns, Okoye challenged the department to design new, creative and innovative 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 the commission should take on board societal changes and dynamics” urging the participants to design new methodologies of delivering civic and voter education in the context of a pandemic.
He stated that the commission had 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.
Stating that the INEC could not 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 voter register, Okoye said that the INEC was determined to clean up the document and register all eligible and constitutionally qualified Nigerians.
He 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, “Without VEP, we would not have achieved the new face of INEC.”
He also thanked the Westminster Foundation for Democracy for sponsoring the workshop and urged it to consider taking the initiative to the state level, so as to build the capacity of INEC staff at the state and local government levels.