In accordance with its operatives, the Justice, Development, Peace and Caritas Commission (JDPC) at the behest of His Grace, Archbishop A.J.V Obinna of the Metropolitan See of Owerri Archdiocese, under the able leadership of Rev. Fr. Dr. Gerald Chukwudi Njoku, last Thursday at ObiriOdenigbo, Assumpta Cathedral Owerri, organized for both the politicians and the electorate a seminar on Voter education structured on minimizing the incidence of void (invalid) votes and vote buying towards 2019 general elections.
In his opening remark, the Director of JDPC Rev. Fr. Dr. Gerald Njoku, thanked His Grace, Archbishop A.J.V Obinna for not despairing in organizing seminars periodically towards educating both the politicians and electorate to play according to the rules on the part of the politicians and for the electorate accordingly to their conscience.
He said the summit on board was an offshoot of the just recent interactive session His Grace, Archbishop A.J.V Obinna had with some governorship aspirants and the electorate.
Last Thursday’s own was on Voter education, an interactive session with Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, State Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA) Imo State ably represented by Mr. Nelson Njoku, the upwardly mobile Deputy Director of NOA.
Rev. Njoku who prayed for peaceful and healthy interactive Voter Education had signposted the creed of JDPC for the forthcoming elections, which among other things read:
The Church is for peaceful and credible election
Collect your PVC, your vote is your power
Say No to election violence. Avoid vote buying/selling. Use your vote wisely to elect credible people
On the part of NazzyNjoku, the Deputy Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA) he highlighted the conditions for declaration of winners, ranging from presidency to governor, down to the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives, then State House of Assembly).
Under presidency, a winner, shall have won 25% of votes cast in 2/3 of the 36 States (i.e 24 states) and FCT; and wins the highest number of valid votes cast in the election.
On that of a governor, whoever wins, shall have gotten the highest number of valid votes cast in the election; and shall have also won 25% of valid votes cast in 2/3 of the LGAs of the State. That of Senate, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly, they are respectively for the highest number of valid votes cast in their respective constituencies.
As well, he noted forms of invalid votes to include: rejected, spoilt, unmarked ballot paper and unmarked votes. In making every vote count, he requested that a voter, eligible to vote, should first identify the political party or candidates; should not vote for two parties or candidates; should just do one thumbprint in the right place on his/her ballot paper; the thumbprint or any of the fingers used should not be outside the provided space and a voter should not allow any spill of ink into another space.
Continuing, he stated, a voter should not leave the ballot paper empty; should only thumbprint and not write on the ballot paper and should place the ballot paper in the correct box. He then charged the electorate to vote the right way and according to one’s conscience.
The beauty of the voter education was the leaflet where his teachings got demonstrated, he distributed. Canvassing the effects of invalid votes, he pointed out apathy, lack of interest to vote, re-run elections, recurring inclonclusive elections, tainting of government legitimacy and credibility, prohibitive cost of elections and may induce violence.
He blamed incidence of void/invalid votes on illitracy, poor voter education, apathy, poverty and greed and unholy activities of ambitious politicians and overzealous supporters. He came against vote buying, the very emerging trends, hatched through various means. He asked every eligible voter to englighten others and not to sell votes. Conclusively, that when we refrain from ugly practices, our votes count. Those present engaged him in question and answer session in all he did justice.
Equally, Lady Ewuzie Gloria, the church representative in INEC, spoke extensively on the need for the faithful not to allow anybody tamper with their consciences.
People across disciplines came, among whom were: Rev. Sr. Clementina Iwuchukwu of Daughters of Charity and most Precious Blood (DCPB); Director DSS, Lady C. Umeh, Mr. C.F. Ani representing the Sector Commander (RS9.4 Imo State Command), of Federal Road Safety Corps, Press Representatives of Parishes in the Archdiocese, CMO, CWO, CYON & Mary League Girls, Mr. Kingsley Ohaeri, Mazi Donald Ekenta starred as the M.C., Rev. Njoku moved vote of thanks