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How To Avoid Electoral Violence In 2023 – CAN, Sultan

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Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III have alerted stakeholders to the dangers of electoral violence, including all related forms of rigging and hate speech.
This call-to-action was made at the Inclusive Security Dialogue held on Monday in Abuja and facilitated by the Global Peace Foundation (Nigeria) in partnership with ADI International and Vision Africa.
The meeting provided a platform for community leaders representing various dissidents, militia, and agitation groups in Nigeria to dispassionately unbundle barriers to peace and security in the country.
Speaking, the CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, warned against electoral violence, saying the consequences are capable of truncating the country’s democratic process.
According to him, while curbing pre- and post-election violence in Nigeria is a herculean task, well-meaning Nigerians and other development partners who want the country to depart from the orgies of electoral violence and its attendant consequences should not be discouraged.
He charged the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities to enforce the law against perpetrators of electoral violence, stressing that the peace accord signed by presidential candidates should not be mere formality.
Archbishop Okoh said, “Although since 2014 some leaders of great influence in Nigeria led by the former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar on the platform of National Peace Committee get the commitment of the Presidential Candidates of Parties by encouraging them to sign Peace Accord, the security agencies must be alive to their responsibilities to enforce the law against perpetrators of election violence.
“It is clear that the intention of the National Peace Committee is not just to fulfil all righteousness. The signing of the Peace Accord should be followed up diligently by law enforcement agents in order to ensure compliance by all parties with severe consequences for breaching the agreement.”
He urged both the state and the federal governments to make genuine efforts to create employment opportunities for the teeming youth or provide entrepreneurship training and funding opportunities for their small-scale businesses to prevent them from deploying their youthful energy into the destructive exercise of electoral violence.
The Christian religious leader described the incidences of drug and substance abuse by youths as an enabler of electoral violence.
He further charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be impartial in its conducts before, during and after elections.
Archbishop Okoh said, “INEC must be seen to give a level playing ground to all the candidates and their political parties. The allegations of connivance of the electoral officers with party agents to frustrate voters on the day of election or to tamper with the election results should not be allowed to resurface in the forth-coming elections. Sometimes post-election violence is triggered by alleged unfairness and injustice demonstrated by the officers of the electoral body.
“The election of 2023 holds the key to our progress as a nation or our designation as a failed or a failing state.”
The CAN President also stated that religious leaders must be seen to be non-partisan and impartial in their public and private statements in order to gain the respect of all, especially their followers.
In the same breath, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III, urged religious leaders in the country to use their platforms to discourage participation in electoral violence amongst youths.
Represented at the dialogue by Uztaz (Dr) Hussaini Zakariyya, the Sultan said, “Religious leaders are the most important and influential block in every society, especially in Nigeria by their nature and space, very religious people.
“Every Muslim, every Christian is proud to be what he is and what he believes. And not only that, he is willing to protect life with all that he has and everything he owns.
“ Therefore, unless and until religious leaders are involved directly into the peace-building process to bring about peaceful coexistence of Nigerians, there will be no peace. Nobody has actually the power and the influence like just religious leaders.”
Earlier, the President of Vision Africa, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, stated that peace and security in Nigeria were more important than campaigning for votes, warning that the country may be at the precipice of a historic change, if care is not taken.
He said, “If there is no peace, no one will come out to campaign or to vote. With the rate of wanton killing in the country today, an average Nigerian is asking: is Nigeria at war with itself? Why is it that people can no longer go to the farm without being kidnapped or raped in their own farms, and some even raped in their homes in the presence of members of their family – the cries of our innocent women have gone loud, and if the state cannot protect them, we should worry about them fighting back. Our highways that were initially death-traps, have also become kidnapping zones, and even the national capital appears to be under siege.
“If this is not an emergency situation, then what is? The time to act is now,” he added.

 

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Rivers Lawmakers’ Defection, ‘Monkey Politics’-CSO

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Civil Society Coalition for Good Governance, Budget and Accountability has condemned the defection of the 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Executive Secretary, Civil Society Coalition for Good Governance, Budget and Accountability, Amb. Emmanuel Nkweke, who said this in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt also described as illegal all legislations passed by the defected lawmakers.
Amb. Nkweke described the defection as “monkey politics’, queried the rational behind the action of the lawmakers few months after being sworn into office, adding that members of the civil society community were yet to be told reasons for the defection.
“Up till now, we are yet to be told why they defected just few months of being sworn into office. For me, that is monkey politics”, he said.
He urged the lawmakers to go back to their former party and beg Rivers people for forgiveness, adding that if that is done, they may be welcomed back.
Amb. Nkweke also cautioned the lawmakers not to allow themselves to be used to do the bidding of an individual, adding that the present administration in the state needs the support of all to move forward.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the group has commended Governor Siminalayi Fubara for giving civil societies the latitude to operate freely in the state.
He alleged that civil societies were caged in the last eight years, adding that there was no breathing space for civil societies in the last eight years in the state.
Amb. Nkweke described civil society as the engine room of democracy as it engages in sensitisation on the policies and programmes of government, regretting, however, that their inputs were never taken into considerations.
“Civil societies give signals, civil society creates the awareness and sensitize the people towards achieving a reliable democracy.
‘’i want to let you know, very frankly, that civil society space in Rivers State, for the past eight years, was suffocated. There was no breathing space, they didn’t breathe. Civil society was dead completely”, he said.
Amb. Nkweke said the situation also affected upcoming activists as some of them had to operate from hideouts.

By: John Bibor

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Sack Incompetent Officials In Your Govt, NANS Urges Tinubu

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The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has called on President Bola Tinubu not to condone incompetent personalities in his government.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, NANS President, Comrade Pedro Obi, expressed concerns about the competence of the Minister of State for Youth Development and the SSA to the President on Student Engagement.
Comrade Obi, after staging a peaceful protest at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), reiterated that the NANS will not be intimidated and will continue to fight for the interests of Nigerian students.
He said, “The message is very simple, we have incompetent people who have been appointed to offices. It’s unfortunate and it’s not the President’s fault, of course he believes in Nigerian youths and has also given us the opportunity to showcase our capacity in various roles that he has given us.
“We have the SSA to the President on Student Engagement, who has shown incompetence. He cannot continue to hold that office and we are calling on Mr. President that he should be sacked with immediate effect.
“Also we have the Minister of State for Youth Development. We are also calling that immediately he should be sacked, because he has left what he ought to do and has dabbled into the affairs of NANS.
“These people have displayed incompetence and are destroying the youth community. There are so many competent youths that President Tinubu can pick from.
“NANS can never be intimidated. This is an organisation that we grew up to meet and we will continue to protect the dignity of this organisation.”
Receiving the NANS on behalf of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, the Permanent Secretary, General Services Office in the SGF, Dr. Maurice Nnamdi Mbaeri, assured the NANS of relaying back their complaints to the SGF which he said will land on the listening ears of President Tinubu.
According to him, “I have listened to the complaints you raised. I assure you that your complaints will get to the listening ears of Mr. President.
“Let me assure you that I’m happy this was also re-echoed in the NANS President’s speech that President Tinubu has indebt love for the youths of Nigeria and also for the students of Nigeria. This has been demonstrated by polices that (has) been put in place for the youths.
“I want to assure you that the President has your concerns in his heart and he’s always ever ready to attend to your needs.
“With this, I am going to report back to my boss the SGF, who will take up the matter with the President. I urge you to continue to maintain peace and tranquillity. Don’t do anything that will make Mr. President feel bad about you.”

 

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Ayu Withdraws Case Against PDP Ahead NEC Meeting 

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Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyiorchia Ayu, has withdrawn the court action he instituted against the party over his controversial removal from office barely two years into his four year  term.
His action has removed legal impediments likely to militate against the emergence of his replacement from the North Central.
Several meetings have been held and being planned following this new development.
On Tuesday, the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) passed a vote of confidence on the Ag. National Chairnan, Amb. Umar Damagum, whom members said has discharged his functions creditably.
It was gathered that the North Central Caucus of the party had long before now started mobilizing to ensure that the zone produces Ayu’s replacement to complete his tenure which expires in 2025.
In a related development, Amb. Damagum has held series of meetings with various groups to perhaps shore up his chances of retaining his seat as acting chairman.
He led the members of the NWC on Wednesday to interact with the PDP National Ex-officio ahead of the NEC meeting.
Immediately after the meeting with them, he led the NWC members to another meeting with the State Party Chairmen from the 36 States, including FCT, Abuja.
The meetings were  held at the NEC Hall, PDP National Secretariat at Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, in Abuja.

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