Stakeholders brainstorm on how to achieve free, fair elections in Ebonyi

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Corps members giving instruction to voters during election
Corps members giving instruction to voters during election

By Douglas Okoro

As the 2019 general election draws closer, stakeholders in Ebonyi are putting heads together to ensure a free, fair and successful elections in the state.

The stakeholders intend to achieve this through a Pre-election Multi-Stakeholders Dialogue Session and Workshop on credible elections organised by a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Development and Integrity Goals Foundation (DIG), in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Abakaliki,

The organisers of the workshop solicited the collaboration of participants to end vote buying, vote selling, hate speeches and fake news seen as major factors militating against free and fair elections.

A 10-point communiqué jointly signed by Prof. Godswill Obioma, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in the state and Mr Oliver Aja DIG’s Executive Director at the end of the meeting, decried poor collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) by prospective voters.

The one-day multi-stakeholders meeting was organised to train and equip participants and other critical stakeholders on ways to conduct election without tension in Ebonyi.

The workshop was also designed to map out strategies to mobilise prospective voters in the state had not collected their PVCs to do so and participate in the election.

Obioma said the objectives of the workshop were to contribute meaningfully to sustaining democracy in Nigeria, through engaging the electorate for credible elections in Ebonyi.

He said the workshop was also designated to seek collaboration from stakeholders to support the advocacy of peaceful, credible and transparent 2019 general elections in Ebonyi by carrying out voter education.

He said that the commission was working with the DIG foundation as stakeholders in the forthcoming general elections, through sensitisation programmes and workshops to enlighten the electorate and other stakeholders.

Obioma said the commission and its partners had carried out sensitisation on issues that could be detrimental to the smooth conduct of the general elections in Ebonyi to mitigate the situation.

“The collaboration has been a huge success and there is need to improve on the issues that could possibly cause breach in the electoral process.

“The commission has decided to expand this collaborative arrangement as exhibited by the DIG foundation and other stakeholders.

“It is our hope that the pre-election multi-stakeholders dialogue will bear good fruits.’’

Aja on his part, said the dialogue session and workshop was aimed at sensitising stakeholders on the need to conduct election without tension.

He said participants were drawn from broad spectra of stakeholders ranging from INEC, police, military other security agencies, CSOs, media and other key stakeholders in the election management.

According to him, the essence of the meeting is to ensure that stakeholders worked together for free, fair and credible elections in the Feb. 16 Presidential, National Assembly elections and March 2, governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.

On security, Mr Mohemad Mustafa, Commissioner of Police, Ebonyi, said adequate security measures had been put in place to secure voters before, during and after the elections.

He solicited the assistance of various stakeholders in providing timely information on security breaches in any part of the state during the elections for prompt response.

The workshop featured paper presentations from the INEC legal unit, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on enhanced capacity of participants and stakeholders.

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