The Nigeria Civil Society SituationRoom which is a network of over 70 Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria providing coordinating platform for civil society engagement on governance issues and elections has in conjunction with Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) raised concerns over the issues of electoral violence, voter apathy, vote buying, electoral fraud as well as collection of voters cards, civic and voter education and the need for citizens to take ownership of the electoral process.
The essence of the meeting held in Owerri, Imo State was for SituationRoom and its partners to ascertain the level of INEC’s preparedness for the upcoming 2019 general elections.
Speaking at the meeting, the National Commissioner of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, , informed the participants that as at 31st of August, 2018, INEC had a total of 14,551,482 fresh registration of voters, adding that during the same period, a total of 815,213 registrants collected their Permanent Voters Cards. He noted that civil society groups have a responsibility in making the votes count and therefore, must intensify civic and voter education and holding the critical stakeholders accountable for their actions.
In a report provided by the Program Director of Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR), Igwe Chidi who was part of the meeting as CCIDESOR is a member of Situation Room, the Imo Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Francis Ezeonu observed that going by what took place during the last party primaries, Imo State should be one of the states to watch and should be monitored, revealing that with approximately 2million registered voters, 305 electoral wards in 637 autonomous communities, this could compare favorably with two states. He noted that Imo State has over 3500 polling units that cut across the state. He hinted that efforts are being made to use the traditional institutions to mobilize for the distribution of the uncollected PVCs. He also talked of plans to relocate collation centres from Local Government Council secretariats and assured of their preparedness for the coming elections.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Abia, Dr. Joseph Valentine Iloh raised concerns of an unconducive environment in performing their functions during elections in Abia State. He said in some places in the past, election results were declared in open canopies. He assured that the problem is being addressed now and that Abia has conquered voters apathy by winning over IPOB and through campaigns in churches. He said Abia added 560,000 new voters and with the help of churches, they were able to distribute voters cards. The REC suggested that collation officers should not be selected from tertiary institutions within the state in which such collation is made. He observed that no CSO member has visited his office since assuming office.
The Enugu Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, noted that Enugu has 2,968 polling units and has moved from 1.4million to 1.9million registered voters. He revealed that with 17 local Governments Areas in the state, his office has enjoyed close relationships with the civil society in the state. He observed that Enugu State has the least number of uncollected voters cards in the country. He said INEC Enugu has made efforts to identify all their RACs and polling units in the state.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC),Ebonyi, Godswill Obioma said Ebonyi with 13 local governments has 171 RACs, 1,785 polling units and 568 polling points. He said that the list of registered voters rose from 1.1million to 1.4million. The REC assured of adequate preparations to train adhoc workers in advance and that election results will be transmitted from the polling units. He also assured that form EC 8 must be pasted at the polling units. He said INEC has arranged to deploy 3 smart readers to each polling unit. He encouraged CSO members to get updated on INEC processes and procedures.