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Blame political parties for voter apathy in elections, says INEC

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[FILES] INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. Photo; TWITTER/INECNIGERIA

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has blamed the leadership of political parties in the country for the voter apathy often witnessed during major elections in the country.

Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Enugu State, Dr. Emeka Ononamadu, made the observation in his speech during a retreat/colloquium organised by the Enugu chapter of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), in collaboration with the commission.

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Ononamadu, who lauded the Enugu IPAC Chairman, Ken Ikeh, for the initiative, said it was lamentable that out of over 1.4 million registered voters in Enugu, less than 30 per cent participated in the 2019 general election.

He agreed that merchandising was one of the reasons behind the woeful performance of some political parties in the election, noting that some parties were equally neck-deep in fraudulent electoral processes.

“For you as a leader of a political party, bullshit can take you to the top, but it can’t keep you there. Vote-buying, thuggery and other forms of electoral violence are all bullshit. Some people occupy certain positions through illegitimate means, that is bullshit.

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“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 starts, your attention shifts from who voted and who did not vote,” he advised.

He, however, said the planned creation of more polling units would create more access and deepen citizen participation in the electoral process, but not the number of voters.

“I want you to know that more polling units do not increase the number of registered voters in your state; what it can increase is access and participation in electioneering,” he added.

Ikeh said the retreat/colloquium was borne out of the current political situation in the country, where most of the political parties were strategizing for the 2023 general elections.

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His words: “All these activities have a direct bearing on the table of party leaders and we feel that there is need to refresh our minds, to remind ourselves of 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 about voter apathy, Ikeh said: “It is part of our challenge and we feel that the low voter turn-out can reasonably be attributed to lack of adequate sensitisation by political parties before the election.

“If the parties go out to mobilise 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.”

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