David Amusa, Port Harcourt
June 16 Council Polls: RSIEC charges Rivers students to register, participate
The Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) has charged Rivers students in higher institutions to register in the on-going registration of voters if they want to make inputs in grassroots governance.
Speaking at a Voter/Civic Education sensitization campaign organized by Rivers state Independent Electoral Commission in collaboration with the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and Rivers state Ethnic Youths leaders Council, at the Rivers state University in Port Harcourt, the commissioner of Public Affairs and Civic Education, RSIEC, Reverend Innocent Karibo, said the only way students can influence governance that will take into cognizance their interest is for them to get their permanent voters cards (PVC) that enables them to determine who governs them.
“The youths need to garner their voice to dependable tangible power. That voice can only be if it is publicly raised in a vote. Raise your card, your PVC card. Raise it. It is your voice that just must be heard”.
The commissioner pointed out that students’ apathy in elections particularly at the local government level was responsible for their inability to have a voice in local governance.
“We have a choice before us to elect good leaders. The choice is before us either to take bribe, carry ballot boxes or use our PVC to vote the right set of leaders. This is the time to vote in chairmen that will be youths and students friendly and who will have the education of the youths at heart. The choice is before you and I pray you use your PVC rightly”.
Reverend Karibo said by registering en masse that any politician worth his or her salt would never toy with students and their interest.
In his own speech, the State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Oliver Wolugbum, said students constitute a bulk of enlightened citizens and that no serious contestant in any election can afford to ignore them.
He, therefore, enjoined them to register and participate in the local government election.
He said in so doing their importance in the society will be recognized.
The state NOA boss further said this was necessary at this time the national sentiment is about recognizing youths’ participation in the governance of the country.
He stated that the youths should by their conducts change the negative impression people have about them.
“You must stand firm as students whom we look on to take over. In fact,the clamour in the country is that it is the turn of youths. You know they have talked many things about youths. Some say you are lazy (not me). Some say you are not patriotic. Some say all manner of things. Anybody who say you are lazy that should strengthen you to make sure that you show you are not lazy. And let me tell you, you cannot do that if you don’t have your PVC. Go and get registered.”
“The local government elections are the toughest and the one that is grassroots base. And that is what RSIEC is gearing to do on the 16th of June. We expect that as youths and agents of change, you will be apostles and go to your various communities to tell people to register as well as vote.”
Earlier in his remark, the Deputy Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Zone B, Comrade David Bariereka, appealed to youths and students to use the forthcoming local government polls in the state to make their impact felt in the polity.
He said Rivers students if united constituted a formidable force that will shape the interest the local government administrations would pursue.
He condemned negative influences associated with the youths in the conduct of elections.
“It is in our interest to have zero violence, zero death. You are intellectuals, nobody should instigate or tell you go and shoot guns. We are going to monitor this election to ensure our students are safe”.