By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU—THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday said secessionist groups in the South East need to participate in the ongoing voter registration exercise, as they must be registered voters to even participate in a referrendum, which they are fighting for, in case they are granted.
At a town hall meeting held in Enugu, yesterday and attended by INEC officials, civil society organisations and the media, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Enugu State, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu stated that credible registration of voters would most likely lead to credible polls during elections.
The commissioner however said that credible polls may not necessary result to good governance which he identified as the ultimate desire of the electorate.
He cited the election that brought in the former German maximum leader, Adolf Hitler, which it said was the most credible election ever conducted but whose administration resulted to the World War II.
The electoral commissioner therefore, urged Nigerians to keep faith with democracy, particularly in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, and to to exploit the opportunity to seek good governance.
He also challenged the civil society groups to engage in sensitisation of the public on the CVR and display of the registers, saying: “We should not sit at home and expect miracles to happen. Even the groups asking for secession, they will still need the voters register for conduct of referendum, if their agitations are considered.
“If you get credible voters register, there is the possibility of getting credible elections. I have a feeling that Enugu state is under-registered given its land mass and thick population. There is no intention by INEC to under register the South East as is being insinuated. Enugu is the sixth in states that have high number of registration since the CVR commenced.”
Ononamadu also used the forum to dissociate the commission from the allegation making the rounds that INEC personnel were demanding money from registrants in the state. “INEC Enugu State wishes to disassociate itself from that act as there was no time or circumstance that could warrant any INEC registration officer or staff to demand money from any registrant,” he stated.
The REC however disclosed that “it was some touting members of the public who used to compile lists for queues at registrations centers that were making the demands. “When the commission stopped the drawing of the lists, one of the disgruntled touts broke an INEC official’s head with a bottle at Prisons Staff Club Enugu registration unit.”
He urged Enugu residents “to utilise the ongoing display of lists of registered voters in the first quarter of 2018 CVR for claims and objections”, noting that the claims and objections would help to strengthen the accuracy of the registers.
A civil society leader and Project Manager, Advocacy Partnership for Good Governance, APAGG, Mr. Onyebuchi Igboeke identified areas of challenges and asked INEC to see how the CSOs could help in the exercise.
Igboeke also told the commission of the need to paste the timetable for the registrations so that people will know when they will be visiting their areas.