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Saturday, 12 July 2014

2015 Election Would Be Better Than 2011- Jega

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega has pledged that 2015 elections would be better than the 2011 elections, insisting that achieving perfect election was the responsibility of all stakeholders and Nigerians.

Speaking at the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) seminar on Political Advertising, Perception Building and Voter Education, Jega said, As we approach the general elections in February 2015, no effort should be spared by stakeholders in promoting civic enlightenment among the electorate and global best practices among the political elite.
For us at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), we have always said that even though the 2011 general elections were widely acclaimed as a major improvement on the past elections in this country, we are determined to raise the bar much higher in 2015.
Actually, our goal is not to only make the 2015 elections much better than 2011, they should also be very good when measured using to international benchmarks of democratic elections. We encourage other stakeholders to come on board and contribute their quota towards achieving this objective, the INEC Chairman stated.
Jega explained that the theme of the seminar, Political Advertising, Perception Building and Voter Education, was quite timely, stating that one of the major requirements of liberal democracy was mobilisation and participation of the people in the process.
I am aware that officials of all the registered political parties have been invited to this seminar. We should all have a lot to learn about international best practices in grassroots mobilisation, perception building and voter education. I also expect that the panel discussion subsequently by representatives of professional media bodies, the civil society and INEC will bring out the varied stakeholder perspectives on the subject matter, he noted.
On the part of INEC, Jega said that the Commission recognised the importance of building the right perception of the Nigerian electoral process among the electorate, stating, That is why we are leaving nothing to chance in our effort to improve the level of voter education and civic sensitization about the process.
We know too well that poor voter education partly, if not substantially, accounted for some major challenges we experienced as a country in past elections. These challenges include voter apathy, unduly high level of void votes in elections and, indeed, the unfortunate incident of post-election violence in 2011, he said.
But I can confidently say here that we have come a long way since 2011 with our voter education efforts in INEC, even though we really must do much more
The INEC Chairman enumerated some of the things that the commission have done in the last couple of years, saying, In line with the Commissions Strategic Plan (2012 2016), we have instituted an Inter-agency Committee on Voter Education and Publicity at both the national and state levels. We have formulated a Communication Policy / Strategy to guide both the Internal and External information dissemination processes of the Commission, and improve our voter education and civic sensitisation engagements with diverse stakeholders.
He further stated, We have regularly been holding quarterly meetings with all the registered political parties, where we share information about INECs operations and processes and get the input of these parties. We expect that the information shared at these meetings will be passed down the party ranks, and ultimately to their supporters.
We have increased our engagement with civil society organisations and media stakeholders. Consequently, we regularly share information that could be used in further educating the public about the political process. Through the establishment of the INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC), we have strengthened the Commissions reach in public sensitisation and its responsiveness to public enquiries on the political process.
We have also strengthened the Commissions compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and trained different categories of INEC on the provisions of this important law.
However, Jega explained that the responsibility for voter education and civic sensitisation about the electoral process does not lie with INEC alone, adding, other stakeholders, namely politicians and political parties, media professionals, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, community and opinion leaders, among others, must join in the task of promoting greater enlightenment about the political process in the citizenry.
Equally important is that politicians, in particular, must cultivate the right attitude to the contest for power and imbibe best practices that would boost the confidence of the electorate in the process, the INEC chairman stated.
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