– By Patrick Ochei
The Delta State Chapter of Stand-Up For Women Society (SWS) has taken the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to task, advocating that proper Voter Education be carried out in a way to making the Voter Registration process seamless for women, especially the pregnant, lactating, elderly and those not inclined to Internet technicalities.
The group made the above submission among others when they paid an advocacy visit to INEC headquarters in Asaba, Delta State.
Presenting the agenda of the women group, the State Chairperson, Comrade (Mrs) Stella Macaulay commended INEC for the innovations successfully initiated into the electoral guidelines, including the current position of law that has given strength to electronic voting and transmission of results.
Macaulay called on INEC to embark on mobile registration for women and others who trade in the markets or designate days that the group would help to mobilize women to register in order to exercise their franchise during the coming general elections.
While making their intention for election monitoring and observance known to the Honourable Resident Electoral Commissioner, Macaulay appealed to the Commission to address critically the issues of late commencement of elections, security for women during elections, especially for lactating and elderly women.
In their final analysis and submission, the group volunteered its manpower and human resources to assist INEC where necessary to address some of the issues raised in the interest of contributing their own quota towards a successful, seamless and violence free 2023 general elections.
Responding, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Rev. Monday Udoh Tom commended SWS for their well marshalled out points of engagement, adding that only an interested stakeholder could take such a bold step to see INEC succeed rather than what they would gain.
He assured that having moved round the State to assess the level of preparedness ahead of 2023 elections in terms of continuous voter registration and electorate awareness on the electronic voting machine – Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), women would be paramount and in forefront of the programmes and policies of INEC. He revealed that the Commission has what is called ‘Gender Policy’, assuring to activate the mechanism to fully engage women for adequate involvement in the activities of INEC leading to general elections.
The REC testified that women are inclined to doing better when put forward for key positions in the country, maintaining that they are true agents of change.
The Commissioner further revealed that INEC in Delta had created 73 locations in the State for the continuous voter registration for persons who have turned 18, persons changing residential locations or persons replacing their faulty cards; sounding it clear that the Commission was not doing a new registration or revalidation of registration. He said the Commission would commence another phase of registration from April 11, thereby calling on those who had not registered to take this opportunity which will last for another six months seriously.
He urged women to rise up to the challenge of the moment in our country, saying that they have the capacity to bring about the desired change that is needed to change the narratives in our elections and electoral system.
He also called on them to apply to the National Headquarters of INEC for approval to monitor and observe the forthcoming general elections, affirming it was only the Head Office that has the power to approve who monitors or observes INEC elections.
However, the Engineer in charge of the Continuous Voter Registration Unit and the Head of Department for Voter Education threw more light on things that voters need to do and understand ahead of the 2023 general elections.
To give credence to the Stand-Up For Women Society’s advocacy, INEC had offered to train the group members on the technicalities of online voter registration so as to help cascade such training and knowledge to other women at market places and rural areas who are still ignorant of what to do to get registered.