By Nefishetu Yakub
Benin, Aug.12, 2020 The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Edo office, on Wednesday sensitised young female voters ahead of the Sept. 19 governorship election in the state.
Mr Johnson Alalibo, the Edo INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), said during the awareness creation programme in Benin that the effort was to ensure active involvement of young female voters in the electoral process.
Alalibo, represented by the Edo INEC Administrative Secretary, Mr Etim Umoh, said the event was organised in collaboration with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES).
He said the awareness creation programme was designed to ensure that young female voters were not disenfranchised and marginalised during the governorship election.
“This programme is designed to address the low participation of young female voters in the electoral process.
“This group constitutes a large percentage of voters who do not participate in the electoral process.
“It is our hope that after this awareness campaign, the young female voters will take their place in the electoral process.
“Our vision is to ensure that we continue to improve on the conduct of free, fair and credible elections through transparent process acceptable to the people,” he said.
The REC urged young female voters to also carry out the enlightenment campaigns to their various neighbourhood.
“We would need you to also sanitise other youths on the fact that we are going to experience some changes in the way we have been conducting elections, because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
In his address, the Senior Project Officer, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Mr Sylvestre Somo, said the EU was proud to be part of the initiative.
Somo said the programme sought to mobilise energetic young female voters to be part of the electoral process.
He said: “The youths constitute a significant segment of the total population and invariably the voting population and many of the first time voters are the youths.
“It is therefore important for the Nigerian youths to participate in the electoral process for a virile and vibrant democracy.
“Youths inclusiveness in the electoral process adds value to the attainment of democracy as the government of the people and for the people.
“I am confident that the youths of Edo State will ensure massive turnout during the governorship election and serve as agent of peaceful and non-violent election, notwithstanding the pandemic situation,” Somo said.
According to him, all the health measures and safety protocols will be observed to ensure that votes are cast in a safe environment.
Mr Blessing Obidiegwu, Deputy Director, Gender Division, INEC, said analysis of previous elections showed low participation of young female in the process such as being voters, candidates and observers.