The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday, said it would create more voting points in Lagos State to ease accreditation and voting processes across the 8,462 polling units in the state during 2019 general elections.
Mr Sam Olumekun, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in the state, disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting organised by the commission in collaboration with the private sector and the Nigeria Policing Programme (NPP) in Lagos.
There are presently 3, 662 voting points created across polling units to reduce accreditation and voting time during elections.
“After the just-concluded Continuous Voter Registration exercise, we have recorded close to 700,000 new registrants in Lagos, and the implication of that is we are going to create additional voting points.
“This has become imperative so that we can have a pleasant experience when people go out to vote on the election days.
“We will ensure that your votes count in 2019. We are determined to conduct the best ever elections in 2019,” Olumekun said.
According to the INEC boss, the creation of additional voting points is necessary to ease the process and reduce voting time.
The REC said that the electoral body had improved in deployment of materials and personnel, and transmission of election results.
Olumekun, who emphasised the need for security of voters, election materials and personnel, urged the stakeholders to continue the advocacy on peaceful conduct and voter education.
According to him, the successful conduct of past elections in the state can largely be attributed to the contributions of the stakeholders, who have been supportive in the state.
“I can testify that the stakeholders have done marvelously well in the area of sensitisation and mobilisation of the citizens for all our activities, especially the just-suspended Continuous Voters’ Registration Exercise.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that the stakeholders here present have a stake in our democracy, of which the conduct of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections is an integral part.
“You are major influencers of public opinion and our first appeal is that you use your influence in doing advocacy for peaceful elections,’’ he said.
According to him, voter education is crucial in promoting the electoral literacy in any political community.
“Voter education as we know is, a deliberate and careful dissemination of electoral information to voters, to enable them participate effectively in the democratic process and make informed decisions.
“It is important to say that the large number of void votes recorded in the past elections could be largely attributed to inadequate voter education,’’ he said.
According to him, with a whopping number of political parties in Lagos State, it has become absolutely necessary for the stakeholders, especially the political parties, to pay serious attention to voter education.
The INEC boss, who said such education would enable voters cast their ballots rightly in the forthcoming elections, lamented voters apathy in bye elections conducted in the state, where less that than four per cent of registered voters participated.
Olumekun said a major challenge of the commission was how about 1.5million PVCs yet to be collected would get to their owners, urging stakeholders to mobilise residents for collection.
“To conduct free, fair, credible and acceptable elections is quite an arduous task, but I want to assure you that the commission is not leaving anything to chance.
“Undoubtedly, we cannot achieve a seamless and successful election without your cooperation.
“We solicit your unalloyed support and genuine advice on every aspect of our operation.
“We all have crucial roles to play to ensure a peaceful and credible outcome, which will further affirm the maturity of our electoral process in particular and our democracy in general,” he said.
Olumekun assured stakeholders that INEC was committed to credible elections and would do everything within the ambit of the law to ensure that votes count.
Also speaking, Mrs Ijeoma Okey-Igbokwe, the Head of Department, Voter Education, INEC, urged the stakeholders to step up voter education and sensitisation of voters in order to give democracy its meaning.
“A situation where only 2.9 percent of voters make decision for the whole people in an election is appalling.
”Religious leaders, traditional rulers, private organisations and everyone should take part in giving democracy its meaning,’’ Okey-Igbokwe said.
The event had in attendance several Civil Society Organisations, political parties, security agencies and the Organised Private Sector, among others.