The Chairman, Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Hon. Justice Ayotunde Phillips (Rtd.), has restated the commitment of the Commission to voters’ education, saying the State’s electoral body is concerned about the rising trend of voter apathy in the State and the country at large.
Speaking on Thursday at the opening ceremony of a three-day International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) workshop, being facilitated under its Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) training programme on voters’ education for LASIEC staff, held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Justice Ayotunde Philips (Rtd.) said the Commission places a high premium on voter education.
She said, “As a Commission, we are deeply concerned and worried about the rising tide of voter apathy, especially where Local Council elections are concerned, particularly in Lagos State. It appears that the electorate has lost interest in participating in the process which affects the credibility of the elections. This poses a serious challenge to democracy and good governance and must therefore be tackled headlong”.
Pledging the commitment of the Commission to continuous voter education, the LASIEC helmsman said the training is aimed at sensitising the electorate on the importance of participating in elections.
“It is essential in ensuring that citizens are encouraged, informed and provided with basic information about participating in elections so as to freely express their political choices through the electoral process. This will, in turn, provide the much-needed credibility and legitimacy of the process”, she said.
Speaking further on the training, Philips said it will provide the participants with a good insight into voters’ education as part of the Commission’s broad preparation towards the next Local Council election.
In her words: “The training should have come earlier, but for the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that living with COVID-19 has become the new normal, we have to find ways around it and get our job done as best as we can”.
“As the real focus is now on the next Local Government election, the Commission is committing itself to its goal of ensuring that all our officers are well trained, prepared and are in tune with modern realities of election administration”, the Chairman added.
She expressed gratitude to IFES for its tireless collaborative efforts, continuous cooperation and training support for LASIEC over the years, stressing that the drive to build a strong electoral institution that delivers on its core duties to the people of Lagos State calls for a united front.
In his remarks, representative of IFES, Mr. Seray Jah, said the organisation has come a long way in its partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and LASIEC in the area of voters’ education.
“Considering the challenges in voter turnout during the last two Local Government elections, partnering LASIEC to enhance the capacity of its electoral officers is quite logical”, he said.