Peaceful election should be seen as a win for all irrespective of the party that wins at the poll, this is the position of DR. Benedict Aliku, CEO of Equipping the Needy Initiative (ETNI), a Nigerian based NGO.
Benedict Aliku, made this assertion when delivering his welcome address at a on day symposium organized by his NGO in Karu, a bordering Local Government Area in Nasarawa State with Abuja.
The symposium with the theme ‘The Role of Critical Stakeholders (political parties, religious leaders, traditional leaders, security agencies, etc) towards peaceful election’ had in attendance participant from within and outside Nigeria.
While delivering the Keynote address, Prof. Mathias Ebuka posited that Politics is about appointment into key positions and resource sharing; the more diverse the number of people the more difficult it is in carrying out such assignments which often engender violence. The drive towards peace is everyone’s affair as whenever a bomb detonates, it spares no one irrespective of creed, region, tribe, etc.
Goodwill messages came in from attendees which included the Chairman Karu LGA, Hon James Thomas Koya (JP). The Chairman restated that Karu LGA has history of peaceful election, hence everyone should ride on this fact that “election is not a do or die affair”. He emphasized that the idea of BVAS and Cashless Policy must be lauded as an additional tool to curtail corruption, ballot box snatching and election violence.
Juad Saul, a United State of America based partner of Equipping the Needy Initiative said Nigerians should strive to vote leaders that have good household in order, leaders that will not take bribe and leaders that know who their father is. This he referenced from the Bible Exodus 18.
Other participants included representative of the representatives of the NDLEA Area Commandant, Gudu Michael CSN, who was represented by Ogechukwu Olisaemeka-Iyi, Superintendent of Narcotics, NDLEA, who said that there is a nexus between violence and drugs. “There will be no peaceful election without reducing drugs to the barest minimum. In fact when you take away drugs from the community, you curb the chances of election violence by 80%; as drugs are the triggers. Parents have great role to play in curbing such menace. The general mantra here is, “if you see something say something.”
Other security agencies present were the Police, Military, Department of State Service (DSS) and NSCDC.
A traditional title holder in Karu chiefdom said the various agents representing different political parties should allow voters cast their votes calmly. Religious leaders should preach peace, love and good neighbourliness. Traditional leaders should appoint volunteers or representative to visit homes and communities to educate them on the need to uphold peace. Also voters are advised to leave the venue as soon as their votes have been cast to avoid unnecessary crowd, which engender violence
Ambassador Akila Danlami, a youth leader, in his presentation encouraged the youths not to allow themselves to be tools of violence in the hands of politicians during the election. They should remember that it is tantamount to mortgaging their future.
The Chairmen of SDP and Labour Party, also encouraged a peaceful election, enjoining members to conducted themselves in peaceful and civilized manner. While the SDP chairman said Peace is anchored on justice, accountability, fairness, the Labour party chairman his Party members have been educated that “election is not do or die”.
Rev Daniel Adejoh in conclusion urged security agencies to avoid harassing opposition party members and being biased. They should be neutral and avoid all sentiments. Similarly, INEC should not be biased.