By Ben Agande
The official list of registered voters in the country would be published by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on March 2, chairman of the commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has said.
The INEC Chairman who stated this, Wednesday, in Abuja while declaring open a two-day capacity building workshop organised for Civil Society Organisations, SCOs, noted that Nigerians were united in their determination to enthrone democracy.
Prof Jega, who was represented by National Commissioner and Chairman Board of the Electoral Institute, Prof. Lai Olorode, said a credible voters register is sine qua non for free, fair and credible elections, which the Commission intends to deliver to Nigerians in April.
He said: “The voter registration exercise has been concluded successfully and the display of the preliminary list of voters will soon commence for registrants to make claims and objections.”
He explained that the official register will be complied and published by March 2, ahead of the April elections.
He also revealed that all the machinery need for a credible election is in place including the publishing of the preliminary list of party nominees, public campaigns by political parties ongoing as well as voter education and enlightenment.
Professor Jega challenged the CSOs to mobilize the electorate to vote and show keen interest in the procedure to make their votes count in the renewed spirit of one man one vote, just as they were urged to educate the youth against involving in electoral crimes and violence as that will rub off negatively on the entire nation.
He described the CSOs as the conscience of the society and a reliable ally in the democratic quest adding that the workshop was designed to equip them with the basic information and skills to function more effectively especially during the April 2011 general elections.
According to him, the activities of the CSOs in every nation is always outstanding as the press for social change, public accountability and good governance, “they evaluate public policies, programmes and operations to determine their consistency with extant laws and their ultimate suitability to solve social problems”.
The INEC boss also reaffirmed the resolve of his Commission to build a transparent and credible electoral system, and to foster democratic culture expected in a civilized society.
Earlier, the UNDP representative on Civil Society Matters, Venis Scotori said the UNDP is committed to the effort of INEC in delivering credible polls in April.
She admonished the CSOs to be above board in the discharge of their functions saying as the eyes and ears of the society, they must not be seen t be taking sides with anybody that may be attempting to subvert the wishes of the electorates.
“Your activity will go a long way to determine the outcome of the elections because you will be looked onto to present the facts as you see them no matter whose ox is gored, I dare say your responsibility is enormous”.
Scotori also expressed her hope that the societies will add to the electoral development of the nation as they have been doing in other parts of the continent.