Nigerian voters have been reassured that their votes will count in the forthcoming general elections.
The Director General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari gave the assurance on Monday in Akure, the ondo state capital at the agency’s nationwide voter education campaign ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“Many of our voters express frustration that their votes will not count and this, no doubt, contributes to voter apathy and low turnout of voters at elections.
“We, however, want to reassure voters that necessary measures have been put in place by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders to ensure that all valid votes count.” Abari noted.
Dr Abari represented by Mr Kehinde Ogunkuade also used the opportunity of the event to reassure Nigerians that the security of lives and property remained paramount to government and all will be done to ensure their safety throughout the electioneering period.
“The electorate is admonished to maintain orderly conduct before, during and after voting to avoid preventable breakdown of law and order because any culprit will not be spared by the law enforcement agencies,” he said.
He then warned Nigerians to be wary of fake news and hate speeches which have been on the increase during this electioneering period.
“Do not compose, send, share or rebroadcast any message without first of all verifying the content of such message.
“This will go a long way to prevent the inflaming of passions and forestall any possible outbreak of violence,” Abari said.
Earlier, the Director NOA, Ondo state, Mr Bode Famose said the event was organised to draw the attention of Nigerians and particularly the state voters to the essence of corporate effort of stakeholders at minimising incidence of void votes in the 2019 elections.
Mr Famose also noted that high incidence of invalid votes has negative impact on the electioneering process thereby making it difficult to determine the true representation of the people through ballot.
“In the Ondo state 2016 governorship election, more than 29,000 votes were recorded as invalid out of 580,887 total votes cast.
“Our contribution today on how to mitigate this challenge and more importantly communicating our resolve hereafter to the people especially at the grassroots would go a long way in reducing drastically, incidence of void votes not only in the forthcoming election but also in the other elections to come,” Famose observed.
He also condemned the increasing incidences of vote buying to openly induce voters even on election days.
“Our collective desire is to entrench a truly democratic system for all citizens and not a plutocracy open to only the rich.
“Violence, hate speech and inducement of voters are criminal activities, punishable under our laws,” Famose warned.
Stakeholders who converged for the event, include all the security chiefs in the state, religious leaders, traditional rulers, market women, non-governmental organisations, corps members among others.
It was resolved that every stakeholder will promote positive attitudes and encourage compliance with relevant rules and regulations before, during and after the electioneering period.