The Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KAD-SIECOM) has assured that it is committed to working with all organisations or groups towards ensuring that only qualitative people get elected.
Its Electoral Commisioner, Public Affairs and Information Prof. Andrew A. Nkom expressed this while giving a goodwill message at a one day One-Day Inter-Youth Dialogue Forum organised by the League of Democratic Women (LEADS) in Kaduna on Thursday.
“The Commision is desirous to work with all organizations on the democratic process towards good governance, which is based on the quality of persons who get elected into positions of responsibility. To ensure uniformity and accuracy of information, the Commission has produced relevant materials, which can be made available to all such organizations or groups,” he said.
He explained that the Commission has pioneered work in public education by recognizing that, rather than been restricted to only those of 18 years and above who can vote or be voted for, democracy belongs to all citizens as individuals and as interest groups such as those of comcern to LEADS-NIGERIA; Women, youth and persons with disability.
“Interest groups must therefore be made aware of what to do. Having been generally not paid attention to, disadvantaged groups have even more need for attention because of their special needs so as to be able to articulate and fight for those needs to be met; they must know that they must do this by themselves,” he said.
Nkom, who was represented by KAD-SIECOM’s Head of Voter Education, Mr. John Bulus said that there are three phases of participation in the electoral process only of which is restricted to those persons of 18 years and above who can vote and be voted for.
“This is the actual election phase for those wishing to stand for election and those who qualify to cast votes to elect them. The two other phases are open to all citizens and include; determining the needs of their different stakeholders by themselves and using this information towards determining which candidates to vote for; and also monitoring those elected to be sure that they actually work to meet the needs of all citizens in the constituencies they represent.
“Although citizens below the age of 18 years cannot vote or be voted for, they should participate fully in determining which candidates are to be voted for and assist in canvassing for votes for them; election is about candidates. They should also participate in monitoring the performance of those elected and of all arms of governance; Executive, Legislative and Judiciary in the performance of their roles,” he stressed.
KAD-SIECOM expressed appreciation to League of Democratic Women (LEADS-NIGERIA) for the invitation to the Forum.
“We would also note that although the invitation came just three days to the event, we have honour it because of it importance the commission attaches to public and voter education, especially for disadvantaged groups such as women, youth and persons with disability that LEADS-NIGERIA is also concerned about.
“The effort that LEADS-NIGERIA is making to provide guidance towards active participation in the electoral process by these groups of stakeholders is a welcome development that is in line with the drive of KAD-SIECOM towards deepening democracy in Kaduna State and in the wider context of Nigeria.
“The Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KAD-SIECOM) therefore wishes LEADS-NIGERIA every success in its work on behalf of its constituency; women, youth and persons with disability and all others that stand to benefit from its efforts in Kaduna State. They must know that they are only being empowered but that they must actively participate in the electoral process towards getting those elected to help them address their needs,” he stressed.
The commission expressed hope that participants would be sufficiently sensitized to work ahead in anticipation of the forth-coming Local Government and all subsequent elections.