The Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) Mrs Davidetta Browne Lansanah has identified robust and sustained advocacy, intense Civic and voter education and funding support to Civil Society Organizations as ways that help to raise awareness in communities and maximize Voter Registration in the electoral process.
According to our correspondent in Nigeria, Mrs. Lansanah made the assertion last week, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, in her keynote address, entitled, “Maximizing CVR, Civic education for a people oriented democratic elections: A call to all Nigerians” presented at South-South Sensitization for women on Civil Voters Registration (CVR), organized by Pan African Women Projects in partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
She added that continuous engagements of political parties and their agents on the Voter Registration process also encouraged their supporters to participate in the registration exercise, and add Nigerians to avail themselves the opportunity of the ongoing CVR in order to vote in the forthcoming elections
“The use of various media and their outlet including social media and extensive and sustained public information outreach are critical to ensuring greater participation of the citizenry in VR processes as well as the online portal which I learnt Nigeria launched recently, ” she said.
Continuing she said, “So these are ways to maximize voter registration. Nigerians the change you want to enhance is through the ballot box. Only you can take that decision, participate in CVR, and don’t sit on the fence. It is my recommendation to achieve people oriented democratic elections”
The NEC BOSS, however, advocated for more participation of women in elective positions, as well as more slots in key appointments, stressing that a better democracy is one where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect, but also to be elected.
Mrs. Lassanah, who stressed that political parties need to take pragmatic actions in practicing internal party democracy by putting forward more women candidates and helping such candidates in training, fundraising and campaigns, however urged women to take advantage of the fact that they have the numbers by supporting and voting their fellow women candidates.
“Women advocacy groups need to work together and that way they form stronger coalitions that will give them tenable positions and stronger negotiating leverage in political party hierarchy that they work together and through the primaries and make the candidate’s list”, she stated.
She said executive leadership in countries need to be committed to gender equity and to reflect that at the level of cabinet appointments. In the long term there is a need for electoral Laws to be amended whereby quota systems are introduced to accommodate women and other marginalized groups.
“There is also a need for Governments to incorporate Civic education as a core subject in primary and secondary School systems and for the establishment of Civic education Commissions to help propagate issues of democracy, rule of Law and equity, participation of women and other marginalized groups in national decision making”, the Liberian electoral umpire boss added
In his opening remarks, the Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (NEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu who was represented by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Mike Igini, expressed special appreciation to Mrs. Lassanah NEC for being part of the programme.
He noted that INEC has enjoyed the support of the Pan African Women projects since before, during and after the 2019 elections, and therefore thanked the group for also partnering the commission in the ongoing CVR exercise.
“Really we are very, very happy because the Chinese have this saying, that if you want to convey an important message to a community, you should start by telling women. So, we are not surprised that you are pioneering activities of the CVR exercise, which started online June 28, 2021.
He said the importance of voter registration is that it will determine participation and total outcome of elections. He said democracy is preferred to other forms because it brings about participation and accountability to collective self-governance.
“Therefore we want to thank the Pan African Women project for this sensitization workshop. Therefore, I call on all of you to take the message to those who are not here today, that in the 2023 election, for you to participate you must first and foremost register”, the INEC boss said.
In her brief welcome remarks earlier, the Head of Mission, Pan African Women project, Dr (Mrs) Eno Udensi said the engagement of women in the country was in recognition of the important role they play in mobilization and awareness campaigns in the electoral process especially in the communities.
Udensi, who disclosed that the awareness would be held in all geo-political zones in the country, also noted, “Pan African Women Projects has engaged in several elections in Africa, about 16 countries now. We know women constitute about 59 percent of voters, so you are very important in every electoral process across the nations of Africa and the world at large”.