The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Edo State office, on Thursday said that 26 political parties would be participating actively in the general elections in the state.
Emmanuel Alex-Hart, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Edo, made the fact known at a sensitisation programme organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for South-South geo-political zone on voided votes in Benin.
Represented by Wilfred Ifowga, the head of Voter Education, Alex-Hart said: “Although we have 91 registered political parties in the country, only 26 out of the number are active in the state.
“Not all the political parties are fielding candidates for the presidential election, so the ballot papers will not be too long to avoid voided votes.
“A careful study has shown that the high number of voided votes recorded during previous elections could be attributed to poor voter enlightenment.
“Since the findings, the Commission stepped up its voter education effort by engaging all stakeholders to ensure every vote counts and the number of voided votes is reduced.’’
According to him, a vote can help produce the necessary margin for a winner and can also make a candidate lose an election or even for a re-run.
The INEC commissioner urged stakeholders to double efforts to ensure conclusive elections and avoid mistakes which could easily be prevented before the Election Day.
Mr Alex-Hart said: “The 2019 general elections is 29 days from now, let’s drive the message home so that the consequences of voided votes can be avoided.”
Grace Eseka, the Acting State Director, NOA, who welcomed stakeholders to the programme, said the programme was organised as part of the agency’s role in ensuring that the state was peaceful for elections.
Mrs Eseka said the programme was also to ensure that the votes of the electorate counted and more importantly curb voided votes in the forthcoming general elections.
“The number of voided votes in the past is of concern and has to be reduced to the barest minimum.
“This voter education programme is taking place in the six geo-political zones and local government areas nationwide and I urge you to take this national discourse seriously,” Mrs Eseka said.
According to her, the agency will continue to educate the electorate on the various symbols of all the registered political parties and how best to thumb print in order to minimise the problem of voided votes.
Yusuf Bako, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, promised to take the message to the Muslim community.
Roland Osakwe, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Edo Council, however, said the role of the press was critical to successful conduct of the elections.
Mr Osakwe, however, said those who needed the voter education were not represented at the programme.