• Road to 2023: Commit your followers to peaceful elections

    Road to 2023 commit your followers to peaceful elections - nigeria newspapers online
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    From Sola Ojo, Kaduna

    As the race to different political offices in 2023 hots up, Chairman, Kaduna State Peace Commission, Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon on Thursday called on political parties and their candidates to educate their followers and encourage them to commit to peaceful processes before, during and after the elections.

    He also called on citizens to make use of available constitutional provisions and other relevant laws to address their grievances that may arise during the election rather than taking the laws into their hands.

    The referred Catholic Priest made the call as keynote speaker at a one-day high-level meeting of political parties, candidates and stakeholders for peaceful campaigns and elections in Kaduna State with the theme; “Imperatives of Peaceful Elections in Entrenching Democracy in Nigeria”.

    The one-day event organized by the Kaduna State Peace Commission and the Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women and other Key Stakeholders, with support from ActionAid Nigeria through the We You Project and the SARVE III Project as well as Christian Aid featured Kaduna state gubernatorial candidates signing of the peace accord throughout the electioneering processes for Thursday.

    According to him, in the process of contest among aspirants within political parties and candidates belonging to different political parties, acts of aggression and violent conduct are common throughout the World.

    “Election violence as we all know, are provocative, hurtful and aggressive actions carried out by people that are associated with the candidates or political parties vying for elective

    positions during democratic elections.

    “I would love to remind us that we did have violent-free elections in this State, specifically in 2015 and four years ago in 2019.

    “It was a miracle, particularly following the 2011 Post-Presidential Election crisis. Today, I want to remind ourselves that we can repeat that miracle, and, by God’s grace, we will.

    “On behalf of the Kaduna State Peace Commission, I call on all of you, particularly party leaders, to educate your followers and encourage them to commit to peaceful processes before, during and after the elections, and subsequently at all times.

    “Citizens should always resort to Constitutional provisions to address all grievances arising from the conduct of elections”, he said.

    In a remark, Deputy Governor, Kaduna State, Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe warned political gladiators against hiding under anonymity to make dangerous social media posts capable of triggering violence offline.

    “As candidates and political parties intensify contestation for political power, the Kaduna State government appeals to all political actors to commit to peaceful campaigns devoid of hate speech, violence, and intolerance.

    “This commitment should be transmitted to party members and supporters through vigorous enlightenment and by the examples that leaders show in their conduct.

    “It is important to note that careful attention has to be made to the messages posted and shared on social media which is more ubiquitous and therefore more potent than the traditional campaign.

    “The impression of anonymity that most of the social media use seems to encourage certain types of excess of intolerance, misinformation, hate speech and sometimes dangerous incitements”, she said.

    Earlier, Governance Programme Manager, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), Mr. Celestine Okwudili Odo, remarked that the peace pact was targeted at addressing (in the short term) issues that pose threats to peace and security, thus ensuring accountability/deterrence for hate/dangerous speech by politicians.

    “This is geared towards achieving tangible and sustainable improvements towards a peaceful election in the state by influencing positive behavioural change amongst youths and other vulnerable groups likely to engage in acts of violence during the elections, to engender trust and confidence of the electorate in the electoral process, and to address the drivers of political violence to work for peace during and after the election process”, he sad.

    He however encouraged citizens to make use of this opportunity provided by INEC under the electoral Act 2022 to make their participation count in the forth-coming election through the collection of their PVCs and coming out to vote for their preferred candidates in the forthcoming elections.

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