The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Cross River is seeking a partnership with school heads to inaugurate democracy studies in primary and secondary schools in the state.
The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini, made this known on Wednesday at a workshop for Principals of secondary schools in Cross River.
``INEC believes that this will be an effective entry point for a partnership to help propagate the democratic culture which can be developed to create an enduring practice of public participation informed by knowledge.’’
Represented by Mr Chris Okereke, INEC’s Administrative Secretary in the state, Igini said the partnership would help in setting the agenda for policies geared towards development.
He said that citizens should be empowered by information on the underlining principles of democracy in order to participate in the democratic process.
``For these reasons, we in INEC we will be working with partners who are masters in the art of knowledge propagation in the dissemination of the information that will ensure that democracy endures in Nigeria.’’
In his paper, Mr Christopher Odock of the Department of Political Science, University of Calabar, stated that voter education in schools would lay a good foundation for credible elections in Nigeria.
Odock said that the introduction of voter education in Cross River secondary schools was a step in the right direction, noting that it would be tantamount to ``catch them young’’.
``If a society or family desires to raise citizens who understand, appreciate and sustain democracy and democratic process, then the best time to start is when they are young, when the mind and spirit are still free of negative preoccupations."
He said that voter education would engender in citizens behaviour that is appropriate to the peaceful conduct of elections, acceptance of results and tolerance of competition and opposition.
Odock underscored the need to work out various strategies for implementing voter education in the state’s school system because it would go a long way in sanitising the electoral process.
``The success of any voter education programme will be heavily influenced by the history and socio-political environment within which it is planned and implemented,’’ he said.
He commended INEC for the initiative, saying that voter education was imperative for the consolidation of Nigeria’s democracy and its political stability.