Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has called on Nigerian celebrities to utilise their platforms to promote voter education, youth inclusion and non-violent participation in the 2019 general elections.
Yakubu made the call at an INEC Interactive Session/Dinner held in Lagos on Saturday night while appointing new ambassadors for the commission.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the interaction was put together by INEC in collaboration with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES).
The chairman, who was represented by Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, the National Commissioner of INEC in charge of Ogun, Ondo and Lagos States, reiterated the commission’s commitment to ensuring that youths are central in the electoral process.
“INEC, in line with its electoral policies, prioritises the participation of disadvantaged groups, including the youth in electoral process.
“The commission has overtime developed electoral cycle-based interventions and creative innovations on electoral issues affecting the youths.
“In 2014, the commission in collaboration with youth organisations conceptualised the idea of identifying from the entertainment industry, the media and outstanding youths influencers, while commissioning them as voter education youth ambassadors.
“We want you to utilise your platforms for disseminating voter education and non-violent messages to citizens
“He recalled that some young celebrities were unveiled in 2015 as INEC Youth Ambassadors at an INEC Youth Summit held in Abuja with specific responsibility to engage citizens on peaceful participation,” he said.
The chairman noted that the ambassadors were selected based on profile and fellowship, reputation, credibility nonpartisan ship and commitment to volunteerism.
According to the INEC boss, the ambassadors were prominent individuals who had distinguished themselves in the field of entertainment, arts, sports, democratic development and literature.
He said that the commission wanted increased participation of youth, women and persons with disability in order to boost citizens’ trust and confidence in electoral process.
The commission had before the 2015 general elections inaugurated a team of successful Nigerian Youths as its first crop of youth ambassadors for the purpose of working with INEC in reducing and curtailing electoral violence.
The ambassadors included singers, comedians, actors, actresses, journalists were: Innocent Idibia (2Baba), Ime Okon (Bishop), Michael Ifeanyichukwu, Ijeoma Okoye, Ibrahim Adra, Alex Ibe, Ali Muhammed and Gideon Okeke.
Others were: Helen Paul, Adam Zango, Seun Okinbaloye, Frank Edwards and Akintayo Faniran.
Some of the new ambassadors/celebrities inaugurated at the event included: Bright Okpacha, Ayo Makun, Uti Nwachukwu, Korede Bello, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Chidinma Emile, Jude Abaga, Yakubu Mohammed, Cobhams Asuquo, Gimba Umar and Aituaje Wake.
Others were: Adesuwa Etomi, Ikubese Emmanuel, Anti Lecky, Above Ugboma, Stanley Chibuna, Chioma Omeruah, Jephthah Bowoto, Uche Okechukwu, Fati Washa, Sank Danja and Yinka Ayefele.