By Seyi Babalola
As voters in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi states elect their governors tomorrow, The National Orientation Agency (NOA) is urging voters to turn out in their large numbers to cast their votes for candidates of their choice without fear of intimidation or harassment, emphasizing the federal government’s commitment to a secure, free, fair and credible election.
The Director-General of NOA, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu stated that participating in the election is a civic duty, urging voters and residents not to succumb to panic or fear. He stressed that choosing leaders who will govern the states for the next four years is a vital responsibility, and failure to vote for their preferred candidates could be perceived as disinterest in the development of their states.
He therefore assured that the federal government has deployed security operatives to safeguard the electoral proceedings and maintain peace.
In acknowledging the efforts of key stakeholders, Issa-Onilu commended the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, for orchestrating robust security measures to ensure a successful election day with minimal risk to lives and property.
He also expressed appreciation for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for their timely deployment of electoral materials to the states, highlighting their preparedness in fulfilling their electoral mandate.
The Director General said over the past four months, the Agency has been implementing a voter education programme that has spread from the states capitals to local governments and the ward level.
“Our hope is that these enlightenment outreaches have created the much needed condition for massive participation of voters in the election in the three states.
We have also interacted with the security agencies, INEC officials and civil society in furtherance of our campaign to achieve minimal voter apathy, curb violence, increased understanding of the new electoral act and peaceful environment for the election.” He said.
According to him, election should be a peaceful process of leadership recruitment which does not require the show of force, however regretting that over the years political actors have devised several means including violence to win and entrench themselves in power.