Enugu: The Administrative Secretary, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Enugu State, Engr Chidi Nwafor has stated that the electoral umpire was leveraging on technology to ensure that that it “conducts and delivers free, fair, rig-proof and credible elections in 2023”.
Nwafor, who was until his redeployment this August, the Director of ICT at the INEC headquarters, made the statement on Monday during the South-East zonal capacity building workshop for voter education providers organized by the Commission in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, UNDP.
According to Nwafor: “The essence of effective and efficient electoral process cannot be over emphasised as it constitutes delivery of successful election in this 21st century and technology age. Hence, the need for an efficient, effective and seamless communication through various voter education service providers, in an electoral process.”
He said the workshop had come at a time when it became important to address the rising scourge of voter apathy, especially with collection of PVC ongoing.
Nwafor who was represented by the HOD, Voter Education and Publicity, Achumie Rex said the training would “embolden our groups of interest, give them desired knowledge and confidence to participate more robustly in the election process.”
While charging participants to pay full attention and contribute their diverse experience from their various field of studies to the discussions, he expressed the commission’s appreciation to their development partner, the UNDP for putting together the enlightenment and inspiring workshop.
One of the facilitators and former Director in INEC, Osaretin Imahiyereobo, whose paper looked at the definition, principles of voter education, setting goals and planning, using the right tools, crafting the appropriate messages, and using the right tools, noted the centrality of voter education in the electoral process.
“Consistence elections avail citizens with the opportunity to express their conscience and settle on the direction of the government. To access this opportunity and to take decisive decisions, however, voters must be informed about the intent of the elections, procedures, and dates of elections, voting privileges and requirement. This range of activities falls within the domain of voter education and the strategies employed to achieve it,” he said.
In his own presentation on “Innovations in the Electoral process: New Technology”, the HOD, ICT, INEC, Enugu State, Mr Gabriel Ọdụm stressed the importance the Commission attached to technology, as a means of ensuring transparency and credibility of the Electoral process.
According to him, “INEC was looking for where to find transparency and credibility and found it in technology.
“ICT has no brother or sister and does not differentiate between people based on their tribes and religion. If you program the BVAS to shut down by 12pm, it will shut down, once it is 12pm dot, regardless of the tribe or religion of the person standing before it”.
He went further to stress the importance of a credible voters register since, according to him, “There can be no credible election without a credible voters register”.
Also, while addressing journalists, the representative of the UNDP and the agency’s team Lead, Good Governance, Peace and Security, Mr Mathew Alao stated that the UNDP looked forward to holding a similar workshop for journalists, in recognition of their critical role as voter education providers.
Participants at the one day workshop comprised twelve persons each from the five South East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.
There was equally a break out session where each state articulated their action plan for voter education regarding the 2023 general elections, which one of the participants from that state presented afterwards.