Worried over incessant cases of vote-buying that have dogged recent elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has declared its readiness to collaborate with the security agencies to stop the emerging trend.
Speaking in an interactive session with the commission’s youth ambassadors and celebrities in Lagos, at the weekend, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said “to checkmate corrupt politicians on the issue of vote-buying, electorates will not be allowed to bring in their cell phones into the polling cubicle.
“The Commission will partner with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other security agencies because we are determined to conduct an election Nigerians will be proud of.”
The ambassadors, who included singers, comedians, actors, actresses, journalists were: Innocent Idibia (TuBaba), Ime Okon (Bishop), Michael Ifeanyichukwu, Ijeoma Okoye, Ibrahim Adra, Alex Ibe, Ali Muhammed and Gideon
Others are: Helen Paul, Adam Zango, Seun Okinbaloye, Frank Edwards and Akintayo Faniran.
Some of the new ambassadors/celebrities included: Bright Okpacha, Ayo Makun, Uti Nwachukwu, Korede Bello, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Chidinma Emile, Jude Abaga, Yakubu Mohammed, Cabhams Asuquo, Gimba
Umar, Aituaje Wake among others.
INEC further stated that in line with its electoral policies, prioritises the participation of disadvantaged groups, including the youth in electoral process.
Yakubu, who was represented by the National Commissioner of INEC in charge of Ogun, Ondo and Lagos States, Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, said, “The commission has overtime developed electoral cycle-based interventions and creative innovations on electoral issues affecting the youths.
“In 2014, the commission in collaboration with youth organisations conceptualised the idea of identifying from the entertainment industry, the media and outstanding youths influencers, while commissioning them as voter education youth ambassadors.
“We want you to utilise your platforms for disseminating voter education and non-violent messages to citizens.
“He recalled that some young celebrities were unveiled in 2015 as INEC Youth Ambassadors at an INEC Youth Summit held in Abuja with specific responsibility to engage citizens on peaceful participation,” he said.
This came as the commission, weekend rolled out measures to ensure hitch-free elections despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
The opposition and some observers had alleged that the president’s action was part of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, plot to railroad itself to power.
INEC, however, in a desperate bid to ensure the credibility of the forthcoming election, listed measures it intends to implement to ensure free and fair polls.