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Friday, June 9, 2023

2023: institute, CSOs proffer action plan for peaceful, credible elections

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The United State Institute of Peace (USIP) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have recommended viable solutions that should be adopted by Nigeria to strengthen and guarantee peaceful and credible elections in 2023.

Some of the general consensus suggestions by the stakeholders included: strict adherence to Electoral Act, civic education, eschewing of violent, CSOs engagement with inter agency security council, engagement with the judicial ,need for greater collaboration and synergy among CSOs among others.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the recommendations followed successful deliberations by CSOs at a meeting tagged: “Nigeria’s 2023 Elections and the Imperative of Evolving Strategies towards Peaceful and Credible Elections’’ organised by USIP.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that USIP, is an American federal institution tasked with promoting conflict resolution and prevention worldwide.

Amb. Zango Abdu, Country Manager USIP, Nigeria, said the roundtable was part of USIP’s sensitisation programme around elections knowing fully well that it is crucial to the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.

“ USIP is trying to bring civil society, opinion leaders, credible voices to speak about the necessity to do these elections under an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

“As you’re aware, the new Electoral Act has been signed and promulgated, and it has ushered in new values and reforms in the way we conduct elections.

“This is incremental in the sense that technology is being brought to bear in the conduct of elections and people are being sensitised to take advantage of this.

“I am confident that there will be credible elections if the Electoral Act is adhered to, and if all actors eschew violence and if we conduct the elections under an atmosphere of peace.’’

Also speaking, Dr Usman Bugaje ,Nigerian Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance (NWG) said the 2023 elections would be the seventh in the series of elections since 1999.

Bugaje said so far, the 2023 elections seemed to be the most problematic and perhaps the most dangerous.

He said it therefore behoves on Nigeria to find strategies in terms of making politicians to commit to signing the National Peace accord to commit to good behaviour to stem violence.

He called for the need to address poverty , injustice in the society ,engage in citizens in civic education and begin to pay attention to the sources of electoral irregularities in order to have peaceful and credible elections in 2023 .

He said that there was also need to stop corrupt politicians who loot national treasury from continuing to rule for a better nation.

“The only thing necessary for the success of evil” says Edmund Burke, “is for good men and women to do nothing.

“It is our failure to address the suffocating injustice in this country that is unwittingly inviting all manners of violent groups to come forward.

“Dante Alighieri said, “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.’’
Bugaje said the ball is in the courts of CSOs ,the academics, professionals, public spirited, politicians with conscience, youths and women whose future is at stake to do something .

Ms Idayat Hassan ,Director ,Centre for Democracy and Development(CDD) said the 2023 elections was crucial to Nigeria’s democracy because it would usher in 24 years of unbroken democracy.

Hassan said although the nation was bedevilled with some challenges, it was however not particular to Nigeria.

“There are several issues to look at to be able to get peaceful election ,the growing trend of insecurity that plaques all the Six geopolitical zones is worrisome.

“The issue of prevailing insecurity is a very important one it is within this insecurity the electoral management will have to conduct the elections.

“The second important issue is that electoral violence has at no occasion been abated ,the SWOT analysis CDD released recently revealed a snapshot of incidences between January to July 29.

“It recorded 126 incidences of political violence which was very high in the month of May and June that were the party primaries’ months.’’

Hassan said the primaries were dominated with more ethnic and religious concentration thus , there was need to change the narrative by making politicians focus on issue-based campaigns rather than cause division .

She also called for the need to pay attention to tackling misinformation and disinformation for a peaceful elections.

Another speaker, Mr Ahmed Jumare ,Programme Manager ,NEEM Foundation said his work around security has showed that the entire country was engulfed in conflict.

“Now in the Northeast, Northwest, we have terrorism and banditry ,Southwest, Southeast have succession movements ,North Central is facing farmers and herders clashes, in the south south, we are seeing militancy among others.

“We are all in this as one entity, the government can definitely not do it alone ,as the elections draw near ,we are also seeing increasing in divisive statements.

“A lot of politicians are agents of fake news and disinformation, once you Google Nigerian elections, all you see is Muslim Muslim ticket and this particular Islamic or Christian community has supported this group .’’

Jumare said the media needed to be engaged actively to understand some of the rhetoric ahead of the elections and work to change the narrative.

He said beyond that, there was also need to engage the gatekeepers of the society ,the religious and traditional leaders proactively for peaceful and credible elections.(NAN)

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