Reverse misconceptions about INEC, Yakubu charges information officers

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has urged the heads of publicity units and voter education to do more in reversing the growing misconceptions about the commission’s activities and laws.

“To our discomfort, and in spite of the fact that our laws provide for inconclusive elections – and indeed they are not peculiar to this commission – Nigerians assume that inconclusive elections are bad,” he said.

Yakubu, who was speaking yesterday at the opening of a three-day workshop on Strategic Communication and Review of Voter Education Strategies for Heads of Department (VEP) and Public Affairs Officers in Abuja, decried the negative perception on inconclusiveness of elections. He argued that scant regard is paid to the fact that inconclusive elections are brought about by violence, over-voting and related flaws.

“Our Voter Education and Publicity Officers must be proactive in appreciating developments such as these and explaining them to the satisfaction of our stakeholders. Issues such as inconclusive elections should not be allowed to develop into public image spectres that hound the commission,” Yakubu counselled.

Underscoring the important role of the publicity officers to the success of the agency, the INEC boss noted: “As the commission earnestly prepares for the conduct of the 2019 general elections, you are crucial in selling our mission, vision and core values to all our stakeholders. To accomplish the above ennobling goals, you certainly need to fashion out a number of enviable strategies or methods.”

On his part, the Chairman, Information and Publicity Committee (IVEC), Solomon Soyebi, while stressing that the timing of the workshop was apt, added that the commission started in earnest to make a huge success of the upcoming 2019 polls and the agency’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020.

“If the Commission were to deploy the best electoral strategies and best technologies in the conduct of elections, its efforts will come to nothing if its stakeholders are not robustly enlightened and educated,” he noted.

Soyebi stressed that the electoral umpire was not resting on its oars in training and retraining its workforce with a view to bringing them in tune with the dynamics of the time.

He urged the participants to make the best use of he opportunity presented by the workshop to equip themselves with latest communication skills that would enable them discharge their responsibilities creditably and professionally.

The Director Voter Education and Publicity Department, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said: “The workshop is coming at a time when public attention is fully on the Commission and its activities and when there is the urgent need to communicate effectively to various stakeholders”.

The parley is the first in the series of three zonal workshops billed for Abuja, Kaduna and Lagos with the support of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

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