LASIEC, IFES partner to reduce voter apathy, promote election education
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) on Monday commenced a three-day training for staff of Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) on improving voters participation during state and national elections.
IFES is collaborating with LASIEC in conducting a Needs Assessment Survey.
The survey is to serve as the foundation for IFES’s baseline and selection of SIECs to engage under its new Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening/Supporting Electoral Accountability and Transparency (CEPPS/SEAT) project.
The NEEDS assessment will focus on LASIEC’s institutional capacity (human and material), as well as the commission’s willingness to embark on needed reforms and collaboration with CEPPSI/IFES.
Speaking at the ongoing training at the Commission’s headquarter, LASIEC election commissioner, Dr. Noah Lawal Jinadu, said the commission’s partnership with IFES is important to the implementation of a strategic plan to improve the conduct of elections in Lagos State and strengthen the capacity of electoral staff.
“Voter education is very important. The grassroots has to be touched; market women, artisans must all be involved. We observe elections in different states in Nigeria and I can tell you that voter apathy is a general issue,” Jinadu said.
He stated that the role of mobilising people to participate in the electoral process should not be left to electoral management bodies (EMDs) alone but has to be a collective responsibility with all registered political parties being at the forefront of the change.
LASIEC permanent secretary, Dr. Olayiwole Onasanya, said the report by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which disclosed that over one million permanent voters cards are uncollected in Lagos State is worrisome.
Onasanya noted that only “10 to 11% of registered voters in Lagos” participated in the last local council elections in July 2021, saying that “there is still a lot of work to be done.”
“Our focus at the moment is on civic and voter education; so that people can be encouraged to come out and exercise their franchise,” Onasanya said.
He advised Nigerian youths to focus on getting involved in the process and not on “Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp – where all they do there is to make noise.”
IFES Deputy Country Manager Obaje Ukeh said lack of trust in the electoral process and loss of confidence in government institutions and public office holders are some of the contributory factors to voter apathy in Nigeria.
He, however, said an aggressive drive for voter education across the country will make the people know the power they wield to decide who gets elected as the principles of democracy dictate.
“Voter apathy has a lot of strands to it. For people to act better or participate more, they have to be more informed about the process to ensure there is adequate participation,” Ukeh said.