Dr Joseph Chukwu, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ebonyi says traditional rulers are critical for successful voter registration exercise in the state.
Chukwu stated this on Wednesday in Abakaliki at a meeting with traditional rulers in Ebonyi held at the Traditional Rulers Council Chamber in Abakaliki.
The REC, who met the royal fathers with the commission’s top management team, emphasised the need for synergy between INEC and the traditional rulers.
He also appealed to the traditional rulers to assist with providing security for the commission’s materials and personnel in their communities.
He argued that proper synergy between INEC and the traditional rulers would boost grassroots sensitisation and mobilisation in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
Chukwu noted that Ebonyi was among the states with the least registered voters in the online preregistration that commenced on June 28, adding that every effort should be made to change the narrative.
He said that the commission under his watch in Ebonyi had put necessary modalities in place to ensure that residents and non indigenes from 18 years residing in the state who were yet to register, were captured in the ongoing exercise.
“We are here to inform our royal fathers that the continuous voter registration exercise has commenced nationwide including in Ebonyi.
“The voter registration exercise is a very important pre-election process which enables INEC to register eligible voters who may not have been captured in previous exercise either because they were below the age or some other factors.
“Our traditional rulers are closer to the people; we are here therefore to solicit your support and partnership for sensitisation and mobilisation of eligible voters in your respective domains to come out and register.
“It’s only those who registered that can qualify to vote in the election, hence we are appealing that our people are mobilised to take part in this very important exercise,” Chukwu said.
The REC noted that only about 2,000 voters have registered in the online voter preregistration against some states with over 600,000 registered voters since the exercise began.
He said: “The number of registered voters will determine the numbers of electoral wards, state or Federal constituencies and even local government areas a state could have.
“Voter registration is a serious pre-election programme that we must give attention to and go a long way in determining what we can get politically.”
Chukwu said the commission had activated 15 registration centers, stressing that additional three would be activated before the end of the week.
He said that Ebonyi had a total of 2,946 polling units with the addition of 1,161 polling units created from the existing polling units.
“The exercise embodies three components including; fresh registration, voter cards update and transfer of a voter from one polling unit to another.
“We have over thousands of unclaimed permanent voter cards (PVCs) which will be given out to their owners during the exercise; our voting strength will increase if registered voters collect their voter cards,” he added.
Ezeogo Charles Nkpuma, traditional ruler of Ezzama Kingdom and Chairman of Ebonyi traditional rulers council, commended the REC and his team for the visit, assuring him of the royal fathers support for the success of the exercise in the state.
Others who spoke including Ezeogo Charles Azuenya of Ebouwana autonomous community in Afikpo North local government area and his counterpart from Okposi Kingdom, Ezeogo Cosmas Ngene called for regular interface between the two bodies.