The Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC) has rounded off a voters registration sensitization tour across the state.
Speaking at the different local government headquarters during the tour, the state chairman of AKISIEC, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak,told stakeholders and the electorate that the claims that AkwaIbom was up to seven million people could not be attested to be factual figures given the voting strength of the state during elections.
Ikoiwak disclosed that Akwa Ibom ranked 17 in voting strength in the country while in the South-South region it stands at number four .
He identified the cause of poor voting strength in the state and national rating to poor turnout during voters registration and voting proper during elections.
Elder Ikoiwak said the Electoral Act laws of 1999 as amended which is the brain-child of the establishment of states independent electoral commission to oversee, conduct local government elections, among other functions, also granted AKISIEC power to monitor, advise and interact with the electorate to see that the people are properly guided.
The poor voters strength often experienced in the state as compared to other climes, triggered the Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, to mandate AKISIEC to embark on voter registration sensitization tour in all the local governments in the state to encourage and educate the people on the need to register and also vote during elections;
He enumerated the four factors that contribute to poor voting strength in the state to include lack of proper sensitization or education on a child of 18 years and above to see the need for registration by parents, stakeholders and relations, lack of proper care and rough handling of voter card, thus making it towear off which rob the voter of the right to vote in future election; explaining that in such cases, the voter should go for reprinting of the voter card.
He said issues of wrong spelling in name, address and mistake on date of birth are also part of the factors.
He said in this case, the affected voter should consult INEC for corrections.
He said another one is change of environment which affects area of registration creating a circumstance that a voter is not permitted to use the voter card registered in Uyo to vote in Ikot Ekpene.
The AKISIEC chairman further explained that in a situation where change of environment affects your right of vote, instead of the affected voter going for another registration which would amount to intra-double registration, he rather consult INEC for transfer of records from the former place.
Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, further emphasized that even in a situation of loss of voter card, instead of going for another registration, the voter should consult INEC and give his/her data, explaining the unit, environment including name and address for reprinting since INEC is using Automatic Biometric Integrated System (ABIS) to help INEC officials check data in the system.
He strongly disagrees with people who refused to go out for registration or vote, with the reasons that they are voting for others to benefit.
He enlightened the people that apart from using the voter card to vote, that it also serves as a means of identification and guarantee for transaction even in the bank.
The AKISIEC boss while urging guardians and stakeholders to educate even their house-maids, gate-keepers and children on the need to register and vote, as all votes will count even as he acknowledged that the present electoral act signed into law has guaranteed INEC to use any electronic means to ensure that elections are properly conducted in a clear democratic atmosphere, devoid rigging.
Elder Ikoiwak, who reminded the people that before Akwa Ibom State used to have 2,980 polling units, but now is 4,354 units with additional 1,374 to as a result of the converting voting points to polling units last year by INEC, said the negative effect of not filling those new polling units with voters during election will directly suggest to INEC that there has been no voter in that units which such may also explain to INEC that the previous voters strength recorded in such units before were mutilated or fake.
In their separate speeches, the chairman of Uyo Local Government Area, Dr Uwemedimo Udo and his Itu counterpart, Mr Etetim Onuk, commended the AKISIEC chairman, his commissioners and his team for deeming it necessary to embark on such enlightenment campaign to educate Akwa Ibom people on the need to go out and register and also vote during elections.
They promised their unflinching support to the cause to ensure that the people fully participate in the ongoing registration exercise and also vote during elections.