INEC begs EU for support on voter education, training

By The Citizen
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The Independent National Electoral Commission, on Friday solicited European Union's technical support on voter education and training of personnel.

The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, made the appeal when he received the Head of European Union delegation, Amb. Michel Arrion at INEC headquarters in Abuja.

Jega said such a support had become necessary to improve the commission's operational efficiency in logistic deployment.

'As we move towards 2015 general elections, there is need for additional collaboration and cooperation in a number of areas, most especially in voter education.

'I believe we can do whatever we can to ensure a remarkably more enlightened voter education by 2015.

'Enlightened voters, who could come out and discharge their civil duties, participate in the electoral process and do the right thing that will ensure that their votes are not wasted, will be welcomed.

'We need a more structured way in which EU, in particular,  can fund some of the dissemination exercise on radio or on television,' Jega said.

He said INEC would develop a packaged programme on voter education which EU could provide financial support to be aired on TV and Radio stations nationwide.

'It is very costly to do television and radio announcement and, frankly, our budget is insufficient to accommodate as much voter education as we want to do or to see done,' the chairman said.

He added that the commission had benefited from many training programmes and workshops from EU through Democratic and Governance Project of UNDP.

Jega, however, said that more training was required in the area of logistics and operations.

'More target training is required in the area of logistics and operations which can help us to overcome some of our logistic and operationsl challenges.

'This can be structured from the zonal or at the national level but at least much targeted training that can help improve operational efficiency in logistic deployment will be appreciated.

'I think these two areas can be addressed to enhance our operational capacity as we move toward 2015 general elections,' he said.

The chairman also stressed the need for training of journalists to ensure responsible reporting, strengthening professionalism and ethical conduct.

This, according to Jega, will develop and enhance competency and professionalism in their daily reportage.

He said that factual, objective and balanced reporting were very essential to the attainment of credible elections in 2015.

Jega commended the union and its member-states for their tireless support to INEC in deepening democratic culture in the country.

'We have nothing but commendation for the partnership and the support we have enjoyed from the European Union Commission and from the office here in Nigeria.'

Responding, Arrion said the EU was determined to provide technical assistance to INEC to enable it to achieve its mandate of conducting transparent elections.

He said the objective of their visit was to find out the level of INEC's implementation of EU recommendations on ways to enhance credible elections in the country.

'We are also proposing to have a technical meeting in September with INEC personnel with a view to identifying possible areas of cooperation to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in 2015.

'This will enable us to know the right time to send long and short term election observer team for the 2015 general elections,' Arrion said. NAN