The Senior Project Officer, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Sylvester Somo has underscored the need for all the health measures and safety protocols to be observed during the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State in order to ensure that votes are cast in a safe environment. Somo also said the EU was proud to be part of an initiative which seeks to mobilise energetic young female voters to be part of the electoral process.
Speaking in Benin during a sensitization programme organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in collaboration with the ECES for young female voters ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in the state, Somo said the effort was to ensure that young female voters were actively involved in the electoral process. He noted that “the youths constitute a significant segment of the total population, and invariably, the voting population; and many of the first-time voters are the youths. It is therefore important for the Nigerian youths to participate in the electoral process for a virile and vibrant democracy.
“Youths inclusiveness in the electoral process adds value to the attainment of democracy as the government of the people and for the people and holds the key to overcoming some of the negative features of the electoral process such as low turnout, election violence, and vote-buying. With the calibre of participants drawn from grassroots gender-based organisations across the state, I am confident that the youths of Edo State will ensure massive turnout during the governorship election and serve as agent of peaceful and non-violent election, notwithstanding the pandemic situation”.
In his address, Johnson Alalibo, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Edo State, explained that the effort was to ensure that the young female voters were actively involved in the electoral process. Represented by the administrative secretary of the Commission, Etim Umoh, Alalibo said the awareness creation programme was designed to ensure that the young female voters were not disenfranchised and marginalised during the governorship election scheduled for September 19.
“This programme is designed to address the low participation of young female voters in the electoral process. This group constitutes a large percentage of voters who do not participate in the electoral process. It is our hope that after this awareness campaign, the young female voters will take their place in the electoral process,” he said.
According to Alalibo, our vision is to ensure that we continue to improve on the conduct of free, fair and credible elections through transparent process acceptable to the people. He urged the young female voters to also carry out the enlightenment campaigns in their various neighbourhoods. “We would need you to also sensitise other youths on the fact that we are going to experience some changes in the way we have been conducting elections because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Blessing Obidiegwu, the deputy director, gender division, INEC said analysis of previous elections showed low participation of young females in the process such as being voters, candidates, and observers.