INVALID VOTES: NOA SENSITISES VOTERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
The National Orientation Agency has commenced sensitization of prospective voters across the seven hundred and seventy four local government areas in the country to minimize incidence of invalid votes during elections.
Statistics from the 2015 Presidential election in Nigeria indicate that about three million votes were declared invalid from the figures generated across the country.
More worrisome is the fact that the margin of votes between the winner of that election and the candidate that came second was less than three million which implies that the final figures would have been different if the voided votes were counted.
To avoid a repeat in this year’s general election, the National Orientation Agency is mobilizing its officials to sensitize Nigerians especially those in the rural areas on the need to thumb print only once at the box provided in a ballot paper bearing the logo of the political party sponsoring their preferred candidate.
At its sensitization programme held in Owerri, the Director General of the NOA, Dr. Garba Abari noted that reducing the number of void votes would help to ensure that outcome of elections reflected the will of the people.
Dr. Abari said the Agency was also campaigning against vote buying and selling to ensure that only credible leaders emerged.
“Because of the incidences of valid votes, the winning votes compared to the voided votes we have had to call for a re-run so these are those things that we must address squarely”….
The State Director of the Agency, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha noted that Imo had more than 70 governorship candidates; a situation he said would make voting cumbersome.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commission in Imo State, Professor Francis Ezeonu lamented that over six hundred and fifty thousand permanent voters cards were yet to be collected across the twenty seven Local Government Areas of the State.
He appealed to politicians and other stakeholders to support the commission by encouraging the people to obtain their voters cards.
“We are worried that people are not collecting their PVCs and we are exploring all possible avenues to make sure that people collect their PVCs. Some of our staff will go to some communities and they will tell them that they are either doing a burial or coronation or masquerade festival and that they should go and come back some other time”.
A former Director General of the defunct MAMSER which metamorphosed into National Orientation Agency, Dr. Chuks Osuji called for more budgetary provision to enable the Agency to actualize its mandates.
There were goodwill messages from the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri the Most Reverend Anthony Obinna and the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Dasuki Galadanchi.
The event was attended by representatives of political parties, members of the civil society and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in the State.