INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has urged the country’s business community to work with the commission towards the success of the 2019 general elections.

The chairman of the commission, Mahmoud Yakubu, speaking at the maiden INEC, Private Sector Forum tasked the business community to use the influence of its prominent members to advocate for peaceful elections and assist in voter education and electoral logistics.

The forum was jointly organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the commission in Lagos on Tuesday.

The commission, since releasing the timetable for the general election in January, has made efforts to partner with several parties critical to the successful conduct of the election.

The commission is also partnering with Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other bodies.

Mr Yakubu said since good election is good for business, “the private sector automatically has a stake in Nigeria’s democracy; the conduct of free, fair and credible election is an integral part.”

“You are a major influencer of public opinion. You can imagine the impact of prominent businessmen and women actively advocating for peaceful elections. The impact on voter turnout will also be considerable,” he said.

On voter education, he said those in advertising, telecommunications, transport, the media, hospitality and entertainment industries among others, can play prominent roles through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

“We can work together to develop messages and the dissemination of same. Support for newspaper advertisement, radio and television jingles, bill boards for outdoor advertising, bulk Short Messaging Service (SMS) messages by telecommunication operators can be powerful tools for the dissemination of messages for peaceful elections.

“Many of you have seamlessly delivered goods and services to customers. You have, over time, perfected the capacity to deliver products to the remotest locations nationwide. The commission can leverage on such expertise to organise electoral logistics such that staff and materials arrive at polling units at the appointed time without citizens having to wait long hours to be served on election day,” he added.

Emphasising the importance of the business community, he noted the business community had been the biggest beneficiary of stable political and economic environments in the past.

He said the polls will be held in 119,973 polling units while results will be collated in 8,809 wards.

According to him, at the moment there were 68 political parties but the number “might rise with about 138 applications by associations seeking registration as political parties at various levels of processing.”

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