The League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN), a youth-focused civil society organisation, Wednesday lamented the low voter turnout that characterised the just-concluded Anambra governorship election, arguing for the consideration of electronic voting in future elections.
In a statement signed by its president, Chukwudi Anyanwuocha in Lagos, the group said, “we observed that many potential voters in the election were not able to vote due to discrepancies in the INEC voters register and the failure of many card reader machines.
“For how long will we continue to sing this song about malfunctioning card reader machines? What about electronic voting? Why should we continue disenfranchising eligible voters simply because of avoidable technical hitches?”
Speaking on its mobilisation and engagement efforts in the build-up to the election, the group said, “It should be recalled that LEPAN was one of the groups at the forefront campaigning for the youths to turn out en masse to vote in the election. We went to several Institutions of Higher Learning under our #1Vote Initiative to mobilize the youths, artisans, market men and women on the need for them to vote in the election.
“As a leading NGO, there is more work to be done in this regard. We need to improve on this in subsequent elections. We will become more aggressive, more strategic, and more focused. If possible we will review our present strategies to ensure we change this dangerous narrative about voter apathy especially among the youths”.
Commenting further on the low voter turnout, LEPAN said, “In Idemili North, one of the most populous Local Government Areas in the state, the turnout was as low as 14 percent. That Idemili is the home of some big actors in Anambra politics says a lot. We need to change this narrative by continuous orientation, education, and advocacy.
“The job of getting people to turn out to vote in elections is not just the NGOs, civil society or media that need to take urgent action. The politicians, the government and its agencies like the National Orientation Agency (NOA) as well must also be called to task. We are doing our bit based on the available resources at our disposal, we need to be supported.
“While we might give the electoral umpire a pass mark on the overall conduct in the election, we observed that many potential voters in the election were not able to vote due to discrepancies in the INEC voters register and the failure of many card reader machines”.
The statement also commented on the death of Nigeria’s former vice president, Alex Ekwueme, saying, “LEPAN also uses this opportunity to register her condolences with the family of ex-Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the people of Anambra state and the nation praying for the fortitude to bear the loss.
“The news of the death of the elder statesman came to us as a rude shock at a time when the whole nation is in need of his guidance. The passing on of a great statesman like the former Vice President who lived his whole life in the service of his fatherland is a great loss indeed.”
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