The National Orientation Agency says it is reawakening citizens’ consciousness on void votes and erasing Nigeria’s record of being among the countries with the highest incidence.
The Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said on Monday in Amike-Aba, Ebonyi, that the awareness among the different groups was to carry the message to their various members to avoid repeat of the past.
Abari, represented by State Director, Emma Abah, made the assertion in a keynote address during flag-off of a statewide campaign against Void Votes in Amike-Aba Ebonyi Local Government Area of the State.
The theme of the campaign is: “Minimizing the Incidence of Void Votes in 2019 General Elections in Ebonyi’’.
He said: “Nigeria not only has the largest number of electorate of all democracies in Africa but also one of the countries that record the highest number of void votes before now.”
The director-general who recognised the importance of INEC, security agencies, electorates, NYSC, NOA said they would play principal roles and work in synergy to achieve a good process.
Abah said: “The beginning point of the meeting is to ensure the people are able to identify political parties.’’
Meanwhile, the Abakaliki center Coordinator, National Open University of Nigeria, Prof. Oji Uduma, said the electorate make their votes invalid because they were not properly guided, hence, the need for enlightenment.
Uduma, who was also the Chairman of the occasion, explained that election was a process to change and affect good leaders when the people understand the exercise and their votes count.
Uduma said: “Every vote cast should be valid and the campaign will make it easy for voting.”
Dr Joseph Nkwde of the Political Science Department, Ebonyi State University, while commending the agency for the enlightenment pleaded to lay more emphasis on using local dialect.
Nkwde, who said the consequences of invalid votes would result to cancelation, electoral violence, choosing wrong candidate among others, pledged to partner with NOA to reduce void votes in the state.
He said: “Election process brings opportunity to elect a credible leader so we need to use our local language to ensure active participation.’’
The Social Democratic Party, Ebonyi North Senatorial Candidate, Ancelem Enigwe, encouraged youths to stand up to be counted among those that would change the country.
He said: “The exercise has clearly shown the readiness of INEC for the election and NOA is living up to expectation.
“With the village heads and chiefs, we will disseminate the message in our native language.’’
Also, the Community Leader, Chief Dad Enigwe, Chairperson, Chinyere Ogbaga and traditional rulers of Ebonyi Local Government, assured NOA that they would carry out the enlightenment to communities in local dialect.
They also advised mothers to control their children to prevent trouble.
“We will send the message across to the electorates to do the right thing,’’ they pledged.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event featured lectures by INEC on accreditation, thumb printing, avoiding spread of ink on ballot papers.
Others are how to fold ballot papers after thumbprint among other processes to avoid void votes.
NAN also observed that security agencies, Nigeria Immigration, Nigeria Prisons, National Youth Corps members, Nigeria Society and Civil Defence Corps, INEC, the electorate and the civil society groups among other stakeholders were present.