The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is collaborating with the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) in conducting a Needs Assessment Survey.
The survey is to serve as the foundation for IFES’ baseline and selection of State Independent Electoral Commissions to be engaged in its new Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening/Supporting Electoral Accountability and Transparency (CEPPS/SEAT) project.
The NEEDS assessment will focus on LASIEC’s institutional capacity (human and material), as well as the Commission’s willingness to embark on needed reforms and collaboration with CEPPSI/IFES.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day programme, held at the Commission’s headquarters in Yaba, Lagos, LASIEC Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Noah Lawal Jinadu, identified voter apathy as a major challenge in the electoral process.
He said: “Voter education should take a central stage in dealing with apathy. The grassroots has to be touched; market women and artisans must all be involved. We observe elections in different States in Nigeria and I can tell you that voter apathy is a general issue”.
Jinadu urged political parties and civil society organisations to continue to partner with Election Management Bodies (EMB) to improve election participation in Lagos State and the country as a whole.
The IFES Deputy Country Manager, Obaje Ukeh, said lack of trust in the electoral process, as well as loss of confidence in government institutions and public office holders, are some of the contributory factors to voter apathy in Nigeria.
The Electoral Commissioner, however, identified an aggressive drive for voter education across the country as a way of making the people know the power they wield to decide who gets elected into political offices.
“Voter apathy has a lot of strands to it. For people to act better or participate more, they have to be more informed about the process to ensure there is adequate participation”, Ukeh noted.
The Permanent Secretary, LASIEC, Dr. Olayiwole Onasanya, said the report by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which disclosed that over one million Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) are uncollected in Lagos State, is worrisome.
Onasanya noted that a large percentage of registered voters in the State did not participate in the last Local Council elections in July 2021.
“Our focus at the moment is on civic and voter education so that people can be encouraged to come out and exercise their franchise”, the Permanent Secretary stated.
He, therefore, advised Nigerian youths to focus on getting involved in the electoral process beyond engaging in debates on social media.