The European Union (EU) on Monday advised Nigerian policians to engage in issue-based campaigns, shun violence and hate speech, ahead of the electioneering campaign which starts on Sept. 28. Ms Samuela Isopi, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said this at the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Programme Closure of Phase 1 and Launch of Phase 11 in Abuja.
“The EU SDGN testifies to the continued partnership with Nigeria that has grown in mutual respect and benefit since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999,” Isopi said.
She said the rule of law; human rights and democracy were the founding principles of the EU.
“ The electoral campaign will start in two weeks; as a friend of Nigeria, we would like to see peaceful and issues-based campaigns and we would like to encourage all stakeholders to take a firm stance against violence and hate speech.
“As the largest democracy in Africa, elections in Nigeria matter, they matter to Nigeria and Nigerians, they also matter for Africa as their outcome will be watched and felt well beyond its borders.
“Nigeria has the responsibility to lead and inspire other democracies on the continent six months ahead of the 2023 General Election, Nigeria is at a pivotal moment in the process.
“Who wins the elections is for the Nigerian people to decide; as a longstanding partner, the EU shares Nigeria’s interest to see a solid process leading to peaceful, free, fair and credible elections,” she said.
Isopi said the EU would also want all Nigerian voters to peacefully and freely cast their votes to choose their leaders and contribute to strengthening the country’s democracy and good governance.
She added that the EU was particularly keen to see greater participation of youth, women and people with disabilities.
She said that the mobilisation being witnessed across the country especially among the youth to register in view of next elections was a strong sign.
“It is a message from the Nigerians, from the youth in particular, that they believe in democracy.
“It is also a sign of trust in the electoral process that has made tremendous progress over the past few years and months.
“Thanks to the reforms and the technical innovations introduced by INEC to make elections more transparent and more credible, and to reassure voters that their votes will count and will be respected,” she said.
Isopi said EU firmly believed that only a functioning democracy could address citizens’ needs and build prosperous, resilient and strong societies.
She said it was with that belief in mind that the support to electoral processes was key element of the EU’s cooperation policy with its partners.
She said that the EU provided technical support to key electoral institutions and stakeholders since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, with over a 150 million euros committed so far.
She said that the Phase I of the EU-SDGN programme contributed to the reform of the electoral process by building capacities, strengthening institutions, strengthening the role and participation of civil society, contributing to the reform of the legal framework.
She added that building on the success of the first phase, the formulation of phase II was done in consultation with the Nigerian Government and key stakeholders such as the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and civil society organisations.
She said the overall objective of the programme was to foster a functioning pluralistic, inclusive, participatory and representative democracy in Nigeria.
“Even though today marks the official launch of the programme, implementation started five months ago in April 2022, a month before the end of Phase 1.
“The programme of which the total amount is 39 million euros – will be implemented until 2027, with a focus on six specific components,” she said.
Isopi said the programme was aimed at improving the quality of electoral administration in Nigeria and strengthen capacities for legislative and judicial reform in compliance with democratic principles and standards.
She said it would enhance pluralism, internal democracy and equality of opportunity in the political parties and the political party system and empower the media to promote fair and ethical coverage of the electoral process and combat hate speech.
She said the programme also aimed at tackling disinformation, enhance participation of women, youth and other marginalised groups in the political process and empower CSOs and relevant agencies to demand greater transparency and accountability in the electoral and decision making process, and promote greater citizens’ participation.
Isopi said the European Union would continue to provide targeted support by building on the successes of the past electoral cycles and taking forward the very significant lessons learned within the period.
She called on Nigerians to support and respect the fundamental and independent role INEC as it fulfils its constitutional mandate and should be allowed to operate free from outside pressure, and in turn must demonstrate full neutrality and professionalism.
She said the new electoral act was a major step forward and its full implementation by INEC have the potential to make 2023 general elections a milestone in Nigeria’s democratic history.
She however, said for this to happen, everyone has to do his part.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), commended the ambassador for the closure of Phase I and launch of Phase II of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (the EU-SDGN) Programme.
Yakubu said the closure of the Phase I and simultaneous launch of Phase II of the EU-SDGN Programme was a further affirmation of the enduring commitment and support of the European Union towards the strengthening of democratic institutions and the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
He said INEC was a key beneficiary of the first phase of the EU-SDGN Programme conceived under the National Indicative Programme 2014 – 2020.
“ The support went a long way to complement the Commission’s efforts at strengthening our organisational and planning capacity, a major achievement is the progressive provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, especially the deployment of technology at polling unit level,” he said.
Yakubu reassured that the commission would work together with the consortium of partners to implement the support to its component of the EU-SDGN II.
He said the choice of the partners signified a vote of confidence in their capacity to undertake actions and implement activities that are critical to promoting the institutionalisation of democratic norms in our country.
He said INEC would work with the implementing partners for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections.
He added that the commission would continue to welcome the deployment of international and domestic election observers in line with INEC’s guidelines.
This, he said was because the commission considered the deployment of such election observation missions as a means of enhancing public confidence and trust in Nigeria’s elections. (NAN)
2023: Makinde Holds Workshop For Oyo PDP Candidates
Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, on Wednesday, declared open a two-day workshop for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard-bearers in the National Assembly and state House of Assembly seats, as well as members of the Governorship Campaign Council in the state.
The workshop had in attendance the three senatorial candidates of the party, 14 House of Representatives candidates, 32 House of Assembly candidates, Director-Generals of Senatorial campaigns, local government coordinators of the Governor Makinde Campaign Council and local government chairmen.
At the workshop held at the Supreme Management Training Centre, Adeyi Avenue, Ibadan, the governor declared that his administration has been able to bring about a paradigm shift in governance and politics in the state, a development which he noted has resulted in the massive development ongoing in Oyo State.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that his government has learnt a lot of lessons and would be able to set adequate priorities for the development of the state if re-elected into office in 2023.
He added that the PDP would run issue-based campaigns, noting that as an administration that has been driven by data, logic and science from its first day in office, it would further “sit down, draw plans and follow the plans.”
Governor Makinde, who also declared that papers for the Iddo-Eruwa Road contract had already been perfected, added that the road would soon be flagged-off.
He called on residents of Ibarapa and other zones of the state to re-elect him and also support all PDP candidates in the forthcoming election.
He said: “I want to use this opportunity to thank everyone. I appreciate us all for attending this meeting, which is aimed at warming us up ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
“The National Assembly candidates have started their own campaigns, and the state, by next week, will start theirs, which will be from the 12th of this month. By then, all of us would be on the same page.
“For me, I am driven by data, science and logic. And for us, this is an opportunity to formally start the process. We need to understand the shape which our campaigns will take for the 2023 election.
“I watched the APC supporters on television yesterday and I discovered their own way of initiating a campaign is a walk-show. Our own way of starting is to sit down, strategise, draw our plans and follow the plans.
“In 2019 elections, we did not just engage the people. We sat down, drew the roadmap for accelerated development of Oyo State. We put the document in the public domain and, up to this moment, it has continued to serve as the compass of development for us in Oyo State. So, this is not something new.
“People who think we don’t understand politics may think what we are doing is ‘political theory’ but this same theory won the 2019 election for us.
“So, today, they have called in experts to speak to us on the political situation in the state, the strategies to be adopted, the challenges we are likely to be faced with. This is because no two elections can be the same. The factors that worked for us then are different from what we have on ground now.
“Then, people didn’t know us but they now know us.”
The governor, who admitted that there were a few areas where his government could have done better, said: “There are areas where we may have made mistakes. There are also some aspects we didn’t prioritise. But I am sure that the Ibarapa people will give us their votes because the paper works on your road have been brought to my table and we will flag it off shortly.”
GOC Warns Soldiers Against Rigging 2023 Elections For Politicians
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 2 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Aminu Chinade, has warned soldiers against helping politicians and political parties to rig the 2023 general elections.
Gen. Chinade issued the warning on Tuesday when he paid a familiarisation visit to the headquarters of the 4 Brigade in Benin. He said engaging in electoral malpractice at any level would bring the Nigerian Army into disrepute.
The GOC said he was impressed with the briefs he received about the conduct of the officers and men of the division, urging them to sustain their efforts and not lower the standard while discharging their duties, especially during the 2023 general elections.
“I want to commend you for your commitment and dedication to duty as indicated in the brief I got even before coming. I am encouraged by your behaviour and professional conduct.
“I want to implore you to work closely with the host community and contribute to the security of lives and property in the area, especially in this election period”, Gen. Chinade said.
He added, “Remain apolitical in order not to dent your career. Whenever you are called upon during the elections, you should remain neutral and apolitical.”
The army general further charged them to maintain professionalism and shun partisanship in the discharge of their assignment.
Gen. Chinade assumed office as the new GOC of the division on August 12.
I Will Not Vote Same Faith Ticket -Onaiyekan
Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, His Eminence, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, on Wednesday said the same faith ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was a political decision based on a calculation to win votes.
Onaiyekan however said as a voter in the next general elections, he would not vote for the same faith ticket of the ruling party.
The clergy, who spoke at the 1st synod of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, held in Ede, Osun state, said there was no need to comment on the decision of a political party, but as a Church, facts about the matter should be presented to people, who will also take their own political decisions.
He said, “You will note that the Catholic Bishop Conference has not taken any action on the Muslim/Muslim ticket of All Progressives Congress. The reason is that the Muslim/Muslim ticket is a political decision taken by APC as a party on the calculation that it is their best way to win the election or assure their victory in the 2023 general election.
“There is no point telling them not to take such a decision, all you can say is that they will have to accept responsibility for the decision they have taken. I only have one voter’s card and by God’s grace, I will use it. I will definitely not vote for a Muslim/Muslim ticket. That is my decision.
“But since it’s a political decision of a political party, what the church can do officially is bring out the fact and tell people that they should take their political decision accordingly.”
Delivering a paper on the topic, ‘Church As An Agent Of Dialogue And Reconciliation In Our Community In The Quest For Just And Peaceful Societal Order’ at the event attended by a representative of Grand Imam of Osun State, Sheik Musa Animasaun, the President, Osun Baptist Conference, Dr Paul Kolawole, and Dr. Abiodun Fafolarin, the Secretary, International Council for Ifa Religion, among others, Onaiyekan said continuous dialogue should be encouraged to promote harmony.
In his goodwill message read by Sheihk Abdusalam Akinwumi, the grand Imam of Osun state, Sheikh Animasaun, commended the Catholic Bishop of Osogbo Diocese, Most Rev. John Oyejola, for his efforts to promote religious harmony in the state.
He assured of more commitment to efforts that would sustain religious harmony in Osun working with the Catholic church and other leaders.
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