ABAKILIKI – (FIC Abakiliki Report) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday in Abakaliki met with the traditional rulers in Ebonyi State to brainstorm on ways to achieve credible and violence – free elections in the state. The report from the Federal Information Centre in Abakaliki informed that the Chairman of Ebonyi Traditional Rulers Council, Ezeogo Charles Nkpuma led other traditional rulers to the dialogue session which held at the headquarters of the commission.
According to the report, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ebonyi State, Godswill Obioma (Prof) in his remarks disclosed that the purpose of the meeting was to brief the monarchs on the preparations for the forthcoming elections. He also noted that the whole essence of the dialogue and interactive session with them was towards bringing the royal fathers on board on the electoral process, what they have done so far in Ebonyi, how prepared they are and the areas where they might want them to collaborate with the commission.
“We are committed to conducting credible, smooth and successful elections in Ebonyi and we believe that this engagement will enable you to mobilise your subjects to go and collect their voter cards,” Obioma said.
While soliciting for support from the monarchs regarding the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) which he said had become more friendly, he informed them that special collection centres have been created to make PVCs collection more friendly and easier for the owners. He explained that the Commission has stepped down collection from ward levels to polling units and have gone ahead to create special centres at the Abakaliki Main Market as well as the Kpiri-kpiri Market, Rice Mill, Mechanic Village and all the tertiary institutions in the State.
He appealed to them to mobilise their subjects to go to any of the collection centres nearest to them for the collection of their voter cards. He also called on the traditional rulers to inform the youths in their communities to maintain peace and keep away from violence before, during and after the elections. Obioma emphasised the need for the traditional rulers to sensitise their subjects against selling their PVCs, explaining that the voter cards were the legal power available to the electorates to exercise their franchise. He described it as an infraction of the law for people to sell their PVCs or for politicians to buy their votes.
While informing the traditional rulers that the collection of PVCs would end on February 8, 2019 which is one week before the presidential and national assembly elections, Ezeogo Nkpuma, who is the traditional ruler of Ezzama Community in Ezza North Local Government Area pledged to assist the Commission to succeed in the task of conducting free, fair and credible elections in Ebonyi. He commended the REC and the Commission for engaging critical stakeholders in the State ahead of the general elections.
The Ezzama traditional ruler inferred that the dialogue served to enlighten them on what INEC is doing towards ensuring hitch-free electoral contests and pledged the full support of the monarchs to the Commission. He mentioned that it was the first time ever for them to have such engagement with INEC, expressing joy that there has been no tension in the State.
“We have not witnessed any shootings or killings in any part of the State and this is due to the way you are handling the activities in the Commission. We will partner with the Commission to enhance peaceful conduct of the elections in the State,” Nkpuma assured.
He allayed that reliable information has it that over 1.4 million voters are expected to participate in the forthcoming general elections in Ebonyi, insisting that there are claims that a total of 318,006 voters registered in the 2015, 2017 and 2018 registrations with 144,674 collections, while an outstanding 173,332 PVCs are yet to be claimed.