Home / News / Local / Women groups, PwD want credible LG poll in Gombe; Votes will count this time… GOSIEC Chair assures  
GOSIEC Chairman, Alhaji Saidu Shehu Awak, addressing participants at the workshop.

Women groups, PwD want credible LG poll in Gombe; Votes will count this time… GOSIEC Chair assures  

GOSIEC Chairman, Alhaji Saidu Shehu Awak, addressing participants at the workshop.
Officials of GOSIEC, ECES in a group photograph with women representatives and PwD during the training workshop.
One of the participants, Ayuba Mohammed, who spoke to our Correspondent during the training workshop.

William Attah, Gombe

Women groups and People with Disability (PwD) in Gombe State were unanimous in their call on the Gombe State Independent Electoral Commission (GOSIEC) to conduct a free, fair and credible Local Government election on December 19, 2020.

According to a cross section of participants who spoke to our Correspondent during a training on inclusivity for GOSIEC, Women and PwD representatives organized by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), there should be a departure from the past where LG elections were marred by massive irregularities.

The Chairman of the Gombe State Independent Electoral Commission (GOSIEC), Alhaji Saidu Shehu Awak, has, however, assured the people of the State that they will experience a complete departure from the past as every vote will now be counted during the forthcoming council polls.

He was reacting to questions from Journalists shortly after he declared open the series of training workshops for different stakeholders preparatory to the December 19 poll in the State.

Experience has shown that in most LG elections including Gombe State, even when electoral materials were not brought to the polling units, State electoral bodies went ahead to announce results, thus, making the exercises mere charade.

Ayuba Mohammed who lives with a Disability, said GOSIEC must take this election with all seriousness and the importance it deserves. He said, “there will be serious problems if election materials are snatched or are not even brought to the polling units because that wouldn’t be democracy again”.

Ayuba also called for special consideration towards their plight during the voting process because of their Disability. He requested that they should be assisted in whatever way for them to cast their votes without difficulties.

He said, “in the past, we were ignored. Only people with sympathy for our conditions carry us along in the voting process and make things easier for us. I pray this Government will not deprive us of voting by bringing election materials, allowing election to take place and making it possible for PwD to cast their votes with ease.

Also speaking, Hajiya Safiya Umar, a representative of women groups from Birin Fulani in Nafada LGA said, even though women are marginalized, they play vital roles during elections as they most times constitute close to eighty percent of voters.

She appealed to GOSIEC to ensure that adequate security measures are taken in the polling units to check the excesses of political thugs who harass women at the polling units as well as check other electoral malpractices.

Earlier, project coordinator of ECES, Hamza Fassi Fihri said democracy never delivers as much when elections are inclusive.

According to him, “inclusivity guarantees that all people have the possibility to make their voices heard, and this is even more important for those populations who are marginalized, namely youth, women and persons with Disability”.

He said society has to invest efforts to ensure that these marginalized populations have equal access to voting right and help make this right real, adding that not only because youth represent sixty percent of the population, women more than fifty percent and PwD more than ten percent.

“It is more important because they are part of the society, important pillars of the nation and their voices have to be heard as well just like any other citizen “, he said.

He expressed optimism that the dialogue and important steps taken to ensure greater inclusivity in the electoral process will take place in Gombe State and the upcoming elections can be a real test for CSOs to instrumentally mobilize the marginalized population to get out their votes.

Chairman of Gombe State Joint Association of People with Disability, Umar Ali Goro stressed that out of a population of about 3.6 million people in Gombe State, people living with disability are more than 400,000 thus, making them critical stakeholders that should be carried along in all spheres of human endeavor without any form of discrimination whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the trainings, expected to hold for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations, People Living with Disabilities, women groups among others is organized by the European Centre for Elector support (ECES) in conjunction with GOSIEC.

Speaking further at the event, GOSIEC Chairman, Mr. Awak, said: “We have no desire to make it impossible for our constituents to come out and vote”.

Asked about delivering election materials during the election, the Chairman said the Commission will not fail in delivering election materials adding, ” that is our job. So, we cannot deal with speculation, I’ll leave you to judge on that day”.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman said the Commission deliberately sought out the ECES for the training to help improve on the electoral process.

He thanked them for availing the  state their services, which he said the Commission is committed to ensuring that what will be learned will be for the benefit of Gombe State.

In his goodwill message, Mr. Manji Wilson, Deputy Project Coordinator, ECES, said the Centre is partnering with the Commission through sequenced training to support the Commission’s efforts in delivering its mandate of conducting elections that will guarantee willful and broad based participation and inclusivity while projecting transparency and integrity of the process.

He said, “this training with the Gombe SIEC is the first time ECES is piloting a sequenced training for SIECs specifically customized to cover key thematic issues of electoral administration, conflict management, media and communications and bringing together election managers at the State level with important stakeholders including the media, marginalized groups (PwD), women groups and CSO’s to foster synergy and promote election integrity in the conduct of the LG elections.

The first training workshop involved members of the GOSIEC as well as its staff while the second day will involve Journalists.

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