The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has blamed the leadership of the various political parties for the poor voters turnout often witnessed during major elections in the country.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in charge of Enugu State, Dr. Emeka Ononamadu made the observation in his speech during a retreat/colloquium organized by the Inter-Part Advisory Council, IPAC, Enugu State chapter, in collaboration with the commission.
Ononamadu, who lauded the Enugu IPAC Chairman, Barr. Ken Ikeh for the initiative, said it was lamentable that out of over 1.4m registered voters in Enugu State, below 30 percent participated in the 2019 general election.
“It was shocking that out 1.4 million registered voters in Enugu State, a woeful 30 percent took part in the 2019 election- who is responsible for this: political parties”, the REC said, adding that “when you go around and tell the electorates that they have bought the votes, what you are doing is to demoralize them.”
He equally agreed that merchandising was one of the reasons behind the woeful performance of some political parties during elections, noting that some parties were equally neck-deep in fraudulent electoral processes.
“For you are a leader of a political party, bullshit can take you to the top, but it can’t keep you there; vote buying is bullshit, thuggery is bullshit, other forms of electoral violence are all forms of bullshit. Some people occupy certain positions through illegitimate means, that’s bullshit.
“Nigerian politicians don’t know when politics ends; there are times to play politics and times to engage in development; once the election ends, development should start, your attention should shift from who voted and who did not vote,” he advised.
He said the planned creation of more polling units would create more access and deepen citizen’s participation in the electoral process.
In his remarks, the IPAC chairman said the retreat/colloquium “is borne out of the current political situation in the country, where most of the political parties are putting their houses in order in view of the 2023 general elections coming up, including the INEC that is gearing up for the creation of more polling units.
“All these activities have a direct bearing on the table of party leaders and we feel that there is a need to refresh our minds, to remind ourselves the need to play by the rules because the law has been made very copious providing for the duties of the political parties.”
On the concern raised by the REC over low voter turnout, Ikeh said “it is part of our challenge and we feel that the low voter turnout can reasonably be attributed to lack of adequate sensitization by political parties before the election.
“If the parties go out to mobilize adequately, definitely, the citizens will come out to vote, but where there is general apathy even on the part of party leaders, then the people will relax.”
In a paper he presented at the event, the INEC Administrative Secretary for Enugu State, Mr. Enyinnaya Onyekwere urged the IPAC members to run an all-inclusive party leadership and administration and follow laid down rules in conduct of party conventions, primaries and congresses.
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