By Wisdom Acka
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, which kicks off Saturday this week, electoral umpire Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) alongside National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), has been sensitizing stakeholders in the Territory especially civil servants on their poll rights.
At a workshop last week, the three bodies enlightened potential voters on aspects of the process in a bid to reduce the number of voided votes as experienced in the 2015 general elections and also to ensure a peaceful process.
Presidential and National Assembly elections hold nationwide on Saturday.
Speaking during the sensitization workshop, FCT NOA Director, David Dogo, revealed that about three million votes were voided during the last elections nationwide, regretting that those votes could have made a big difference.
He added that it was not good for the electorate to spend their time, energy and resources under the sun or rain only to have their votes voided in the end.
Dogo urged the key stakeholders, drawn particularly from FCTA, to educate those around them, including relatives and friends, on the technical issues involved in elections so as to avoid mistakes often overlooked by the electorate. He requested voters to rather adhere strictly to electoral processes.
The Director explained that proper orientation of residents of rural areas would eliminate incidences of wrong voting, leading to successful elections, adding that with full support of civil servants, flouting of regulations and guidelines would be highly minimized.
According to Dogo, civil servants, if well sensitized, would get the message across all levels in the Territory, considering their proximity to the voters.
On his part, FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, who was represented by the Acting Secretary, Social Development Secretariat (SDS), Hajiya Safiya Umar, called on civil servants to play exemplary roles that would promote peaceful elections in the Territory.
Umar, who doubles as Director, Administration and Finance, SDS, noted that if civil servants failed to sensitize residents on the significance of peaceful elections, right persons and steps would not be put in place in political governance.
She said: “We as civil servants should sit up and do the needful so as to strengthen the system for the benefits of all; and also stand the test of time.”
She further charged civil servants to always stick to the rules no matter the conditions so as to always provide that right direction for policy implementation, warning ”do not mix politics with policies.”
The Director, Information and Communication, Mrs Stella Ojeme sued for peace before, during and after election, adding that FCT since the democratic dispensation has always been peaceful and violence free. She therefore urged the electorate to go to the polling unit to cast their votes without fear.