The National Association of Seadogs, NAS, has commended the Kaduna State government for transmitting results of the local government election in the state electronically.
The Kaduna chapter of NAS also told the 35 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja to emulate Kaduna state to ensure that the process is free, fair and credible.
In a statement issued weekend by the Kaduna Chapter of NAS, signed by its President, Henry Nduka Onyiah, the association also lauded the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission for the implementation of the EVM assisted electoral system.
The statement titled, “Making #OurVotesCount In Kaduna State”, noted with sadness that
the conduct of Local Government elections across Nigeria by State Independent Electoral Commissions has offered very little hope towards meeting the peoples aspiration.
“This, in our opinion, has been the most debilitating factor in the quest for good governance at the grassroots despite the push for Local Government Autonomy”, it said.
NAS also known as Pyrates Confraternity further said, “Kaduna State continued to make national history when for the second successive time, the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission organised Local Government elections based on Electronic Voting Machines in 19 out of 23 Local Government Areas on the 4th of September, 2021.
“The #OurVotesCount initiative is a national mass education programme purposed to increase informed awareness among the electorate.
“#OurVotesCount campaigns for citizens to equip themselves with the necessary information and skills towards making elections count.
“#OurVotesCount advocates for true democracy where the elected at all tiers of government, bound by the rule of law, are accountable to the electorate and impunity has no place.
“The feedback gathered so far, regarding the 2021 Kaduna Local Government elections, strongly indicate minimal speculation or controversy about the validity of the declared results – from polling units up to Ward and Local Government levels – irrespective of individual voter preferences.
“The prevailing trend is that of a consensus that successful contestants were indeed, largely a reflection of the electorate’s choice. We can only summarise this as a historically unprecedented and crystal-clear decisive victory for democracy as far as elections in Nigeria are concerned, especially in an era where references are still being made to the premium democratic value of the 12th June 1993 elections.
“A drawback of consequence was in respect of voter apathy demonstrated by the numbers of voters compared to the population of residents. While this reflects a national trend and is by no means unique to Kaduna State, it highlights a very clear opportunity for more creativity to be deployed in dealing with this problem.
“Substantially more than 50% of the population of Kaduna State is made up of youths and the apathy of this demographic can be understood. Today, they are the ones contending with the consequences of the commissions and omissions in the governance decisions of the past. ”
Onyiah, who is also the
Regional Coordinator, #OurVotesCount Initiative, Northwest Zone, said it was the same youths who will be custodians of the future that was being decided through the election.
“They therefore must be brought on board to significantly own and begin to drive the process of devising creative solutions to voter apathy in a time and age that they understand better than the elders who are at the helm of affairs,” he said.
Continuing, the association said, “We suggest, amongst others, that the esteemed Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship Programme, which is essentially youth-oriented in nature, be tasked with critically examining this problem and proffering contemporary approaches to identifying solutions.
“Those active in the Third Sector especially those with a bias for social advocacy & grassroots development could be identified and mobilized as stakeholders in a joint enterprise in this regard in a manner akin to declaring a state of emergency on voter apathy.
“Yet another idea could be to organize and convene ‘Youth Parliaments’ in wards across the state for this purpose. The following, and many others not mentioned, are suggested as viable resources to achieving this:
“Non Governmental Organisations such as the apex Arewa women’s organization – Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa, led by Hajiya Rabi Musa Saulawa; Northern Hibiscus led by Hajiya Aisha Abubakar Falke (who organized the tremendously impactful Northern Youth Summit in 2019);
Active and contemporary practitioners in the performing and creative arts as well as in the Information & Communication Technology space; Social Media influencers such as Jafaar Jafaar, Mohammed Auwal Mu’azu, Ms. Nimali Asiya Rodrigo, etc.,
“Old Students Associations such as those of Capital School, Queen Amina College, Barewa College, Government College, Rimi College, Sardauna Memorial College, Alhudahuda College, Kufena College, Federal Government Unity Schools, etc., Market Associations as well as community youth leaders
Bearing in mind that the next Local Government elections would be in 3 years, we also highlight an opportunity, through school curriculum and extracurricular activities, for current secondary school students to be guided towards viewing voting in Local Government Elections, amongst other civic responsibilities, through the lenses of an exciting and anticipated rite of passage into adulthood.
“To walk our talk, the Kaduna Chapter of the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) under the aegis of #OurVotesCount is undertaking a polling and awareness campaign aimed at expanding our survey of citizens’ experience with the digital election while simultaneously boosting voter awareness.
“The report will form part of the proposal we will make as part of civil society’s contribution towards promoting and sustaining positive and proactive ideas for the state government about expanding the concept of true democracy in Kaduna State from a vertical and horizontal perspective.
“It is also worth mentioning that when there are no consequences for impunity, a lot of the psychological gains generated by these elections will be lost. There needs to be the publicly visible and consistent implementation of a zero-tolerance for impunity and every breach of the code of conduct for public officers.
“This would consistently remind the elected that they are indeed servants of the electorate and not the masters. Building and strengthening the institution of governance as well as law and order are vital to engendering increasing confidence and positivity among the electorate, especially among the youth.
“This significant achievement of the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission serves as a clarion call to the 35 other State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIEC) to sit up, be innovative and proactive with delivering better electoral experience and confidence.
“The 35 SIECs must regard the Kaduna State Local Government elections as a tested and confirmed proof of concept. It is now time for the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions (FOSIEC) to go beyond appreciating the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission and begin to take concrete intractable steps towards implementing an electoral system that has Electronic Voting Machines as the cornerstone upon which successive layers of technology may be built.
“The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), Kaduna Chapter, congratulates the government of Kaduna State led by the Governor, His Excellency, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai on the successful conduct of the 2021 Kaduna State Local Government Elections.
“Highly commendable is the decisive and innovative leadership that has been deployed towards showing Nigerians that where there is a will, there is indeed a way towards free, fair, credible, and violence-free elections in Nigeria.
“We congratulate the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission chaired by Dr. Saratu Binta Dikko-Audu for the diligent implementation of the EVM assisted electoral system.
“This achievement significantly breathes fresh hope into the concept of an independent ballot box as the cornerstone for a truly functional democracy.
“We salute all the contestants for the teamwork exhibited across partisan lines while participating in a historic election that has, without equivocation, fully unfurled the potential to turn the tide towards the positive for the future of elections and governance in Nigeria.
“We congratulate the victors at the polls as true reflections of the popular will of the people who have vested in them the responsibility for governance and the delivery of service at the grassroots where most needs of the populace may be met.
“We counsel that they must ensure that in true service and governance, they lead with conviction to affirm to their citizens that #OurVotesCount.
“Our biggest congratulations go to every single one of the estimated 9 million residents of Kaduna State for demonstrating to 200 million other Nigerians that it is indeed possible for Nigerians to collectively speak through an independent ballot box and for their collective voice to be regarded as the will, and indeed, the voice of God.
“In conclusion, while Nigeria gets buffeted on all sides by many erstwhile and contemporary challenges, we must be uncompromising in recognizing and tending the buds from which hope and positivity blossom.
“In recognizing and championing the spread of these beneficial attainments, we call on all residents of Kaduna State, and the greater Nigerian populace, not to continue regressing into negativity when we can count the small blessings and in celebrating them, extrapolate them into a proactive, diligent and purposeful clarion call for the change that is dearly needed for the salvation of our dear country.”