The National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute have blamed the low voter turnout in the Saturday’s elections on inability of political parties and candidates to ensure adequate sensitisation of the electorate.
Chris Fomunyoh, NDI’s Regional Director for Africa, and John Tomaszewski, Regional Director Africa of IRI, stated this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
According to Fomunyoh, there is also a responsibility there for parties and candidates to make sure that people are sensitised as to the importance of the state elections.
He said: “Therefore, political parties have responsibility to be able to develop messages, platform and policy position that can incite the voters in the states, which will bring them out to be able to cast their ballot.
“But not having seen that kind of campaigning in the states, you can understand why some voters may not really figure out why it is important for them to come out to vote.”
The NDI director said the lesson to be drawn from the development was the need for more intensive voter eduction.
According to him, the voter education will not just be undertaken in English alone, but also in local languages so that the population at the grassroots level can feel empowered to be part of the electoral process.
Corroborating Fomunyoh’s remark, Tomaszewski said: “Though in the US state level elections do not always draw the same voter turnout, the number of the electorate who voted in these polls was too low.
“It also has to do with the candidates, the campaigns.
“So it is very important to look at this.
“How can we make sure that there is same level of excitement for this election as well?”
Tomaszewski, who revealed NDI and IRI had been in Nigeria since 1999, said the organisations attach importance to democracy at local levels.
He said: “We are a democracy support organisation.
“We attach a lot of importance to democracy at the grassroots level because that is where the citizens can see that democracy can deliver and it can make a difference.
“So every election that entails electing people at local level is something that is very dear to our heart and that is why we are here.”