The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says it is targeting to register at least two million voters in Ebonyi for the 2019 general elections.
The Ebonyi Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Godswill Obioma, disclosed this at a media lunch on Friday in Abakaliki.
Obioma explained that the voting strength of the state in the 2015 general election stood at 1,074,273, adding that the commission had strategised to beef up the voting population.
According to him, the commission has registered no fewer than 132,170 voters in 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018.
He stressed that the INEC had a task to achieve the two million target.
“Our overall target in Ebonyi is to have at least two million registered voters for the 2019 general elections.
“We will do this simply by adding up to the 2015 registered population. We have so far registered 132,170 voters in 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018.
“And what this translates to is that we have a deficit of 793,557 voters to register to achieve our two million target.
“What is needed is for all hands to be on the deck as we intensify our efforts to mobilise eligible voters not yet registered to go out and register.
“There is zero tolerance to double and underage registration, and registration can only take place in designated registration centres by INEC officials,” Obioma said.
The REC said that he had enjoyed the support of media practitioners since he assumed office nine months ago, and called for its sustenance.
He noted that the media have a critical role to play in enhancing the electoral process and in ensuring credible, free and fair elections through objective reportage.
“The role of the media in enhancing the electoral system and processes cannot be overemphasized, hence your collaboration and cooperation are very germane in our drive to conduct free, credible elections in Ebonyi in 2019.”
Obioma said that in order to mobilise more participation and ginger greater voter education awareness, especially for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), the commission initiated community-based town hall meetings.
He said that voter education before his assumption of duty in Ebonyi was driven mainly by radio jingles and little attempts were made to carry the message to the doorsteps of the target audience.
He added that participants to the town hall meetings were drawn from various electoral stakeholders, including politicians, rural men and women, youths, students, traditional rulers, civil society organizations, physically challenged, among others.
“Most of you from your various media platforms participated and played very significant rules at these town halls meetings, which afforded the locals opportunity to interact with and seek clarifications from INEC on the CVR and elections generally.
“The town meetings offered direct access for the people to talk to the INEC officials about their observations, experiences, challenges and suggestions on what needs to be done to achieve better environment for electoral process in the state”.
He explained that more Direct Data Capturing Machine (DDCM), were introduced to create more access to the people to participate in the CVR as approved by the national headquarters.
“In order to boost voter registration and make the process more accessible, three DDCMs have been approved for each local government area.
He said that one DDCM machine was stationed at local government electoral office, while others are rotated across the registration areas or wards within the council.
“It is envisaged that each DDCM will spend three to four days in a registration area or ward in a given cycle and there will be two cycles in a quarter, ” the REC said. (NAN)