President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to collaborate with traditional rulers in educating the local electorate on voting modalities ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Buhari made the call while declaring open the 10th General Assembly of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) on Monday in Abuja. He was represented at the occasion by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The theme of the Assembly is “Building a Synergy Towards Free, Fair, Credible and Violence-Free 2019 General Elections: The Role of Traditional Rulers.
The president said that there was a need to build synergies that would engender free, fair and peaceful election.
According to him, the annual gathering of the royal heads of traditional institutions is timely and indeed, a blessing, adding that the theme is most appropriate.
“This is because the role of your royal majesties and traditional institutions are crucial for connecting the people of your kingdoms and domains to the federal and state agencies responsible for the conduct of elections.
“The major purpose of establishing that link is to educate the local electorate or reinforce information that they may have about electoral processes as laid down by INEC.
“For example, INEC has said that in the forthcoming polls, voters will be accredited and then vote immediately after accreditation.
“This is different from the old method of accreditation first and then coming back hours later to vote; this must be well disseminated to all.
“Similarly, the use of card readers, the role of party agents and other electoral actors will require some explanation and some dissemination, especially where the rules have changed.
“And we expect that INEC will be working in close collaboration with all of our royal fathers in your various domains to ensure that not are you adequately informed, but also that your people are also adequately informed,’’ he said.
Buhari said that the role of security agencies was particularly crucial in curbing violence but that the backbone of effective security was quality intelligence.
He said that the most trusted repository of local intelligence was the royal father in his domain; hence the need for security agencies to work closely with the royal fathers in handling security issues during the elections.
The president urged the traditional rulers rise to their responsibilities of guidance and counselling, to enlighten the populace to shun all forms of animosity, aggression, conflict and violence before, during and after the general.elections.
He also implored them to mobilise their people to participate by voting for candidates of their choice and parties of their choice at all levels without fear of molestation, intimidation or harassment.
Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife and Co-Chairman, (NCTRN), said there was a need for all sundry to keep praying for Nigeria; especially for a smooth and successful 2019 general elections.
According to him, traditional rulers have a pivotal role to play in their various kingdoms and communities mostly, especially in mobilising the teeming youths.
“So, the big side of it is for us to talk to our subjects for them to comport themselves and go out to perform their civic duties and on the flip side. We should try as much as possible to curb violence.
“We have a key role to play in the stability and good governance of this country; we have no other country but Nigeria.
”We know there are challenges; we must play that pivotal role as a stabilising force for our dear country,’’ he said.
Earlier, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who was a special guest, urged traditional rulers to mobilise their subjects to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and exercise their franchise.
Traditional rulers drawn from the 36 states of the federation attended the Assembly; notable among them were the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe among others.