Sam Olumekun, Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lamented the increasing voter’s apathy witnessed among Nigerians.
Olumekun, made the remark at a stakeholders meeting held at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Alausa Ikeja, noting that recent bye-elections conducted in the state by the commission witnessed an alarming poor turnout of voters.
He stated that the way forward was for politicians and political parties in the state to embark on sensitisation of their members, educating them on the importance of effective participation in the electoral process, noting that democracy would not be meaningful without the active participation of the citizens.
He said, “With 62 registered parties in Lagos State it has become necessary for stakeholders to pay attention to the issue of voters’ education to enable their voters cast their votes correctly in next year’s election.”
Adding, “We thought the impact of voters turn out will improve considerably, after the 2015 elections but Commission has conducted two bye-elections in Ifako Ijaye federal constituency held in December 2016 and Etiosa State constituency held in September, both elections recorded abysmal turnout.”
The electoral commissioner was worried that about 1.5 million Permanent Voter Cards (PVC’s) were not collected in the state, noting that the uncollected PVC’s where the ones whose registration were carried out prior to the 2015 general elections and in the recently concluded Continuous Voter’s Registration Exercise (CVR) in the state, even as he warned that the commission would not issue PVC’s on proxy, stressing that it was currently found-turning measures to encourage the speedy collection of the PVC cards before next year’s general elections in the state.
He said, “We have about 1.5 million PVC’s uncollected in Lagos State and this are cards whose registration was done before the 2015 elections and in the just concluded Continuous Voter’s Registrations Exercise. We have partnered with mobile telecommunication companies to help send messages to Lagosians to come and collect these cards.
Adding, “We will not issue out the cards on a proxy, it is the owner of the cards that must be given these cards and we are also working on other measures to make people come out and collect this cards,” Olumekun said.
Commenting on the issue, stakeholders present at the event, attributed the challenge to poor governance over the years, noting that the trend could be checked if the government would be held accountable and responsive to the electorate, even as it would hold the electoral umpire responsible to conduct credible elections.
Comrade Uduak Achibong, Lagos State chairman of the Action Democratic Party (APC), noted that only 30 per cent of registered voters in the country often participate in elections, noting that the increasing violence during elections in the country had worsened in recent time.