From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The road walk sensitization campaigns against election violence took the volunteered Kogi youths to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Police, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters in Lokoja, the state capital, to register their position on the need to ensure peaceful, free, credible and fair governorship polls.
The programme was organized by Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID) in collaboration with 2Baba Foundation, Nigeria, Activista with support from ActionAid, National Democratic Institute (NDI), Enough is Enough, 2Baba Foundation, USA and UKAID.
The organizers also used the Kogi State Chapter of Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) and the National Association of Kogi State Students (NAKOSS) to facilitate effective mobilization of the youths for the campaigns.
The commissioner of police, Kogi Command, Mr. Hakeem Busari while addressing over 500 youths from across the state in a procession on Vote Not Fight: Election No Be War, towards “Non-violent Election in Kogi State” promised to be unbiased in ensuing adequate security for effective coverage of the governorship polls
Busari who commended the youths for their Non-violent stance, said the police, alongside other security Agencies would ensure security of lives and property before, during and after the election with adequate and effective deployment of personnel.
“We have already trained our men for this upcoming election and we are going to have enough manpower because we are going to have adequate support from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) from the Force headquarters towards this coming election.
“The polling booths and the wards are going to be properly policed and enough policemen will be on patrol. So we don’t have anything to fear as far as the November 16, election is concerned”, he said.
Busari however, cautioned the Stakeholders to play the game according to the rules saying, “And you the youths too should play the game according to the rule. If everybody conduct themselves in a peaceful manner the work of security will be very very simple.”
Earlier, at the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. James Apam pledged that the commission would not do anything short of ensuring free, fair and credible conduct during the election.
The REC who was represented by the Head, Voter Education and Publicity, Alhaji Ahmed Bagudu-Biambo commended the youths for taking upon themselves to ensure credible election saying that electoral violence would not be tolerated.
He said that violence had far-reaching adverse effects on elections as the disabled, women and the aged were often disenfranchised aside its negative impact on voter turnout, the economy, peaceful coexistence, budget implementation among others.
Presenting their “Vote, Not Fight” Youth Position On the November 16th, 2019 Off Cycle Governorship Election in Kogi State, Mrs Gift Omoniwa, Executive Director PIBCID, said it is time to end the use of youths as thugs to perpetrate Electoral violence in the state.
Omoniwa said that youths constituted more than 60 per cent of the State’s population (NPC, 2006) and also represented majority of registered voters in the state but had, regrettably remained marginalised and under-represented in decision making.
“Over the years, the sponsors of electoral violence have used the youths to perpetrate violence and disrupt the electoral process.
“During election violence, voters are threatened, intimidated, restricted, wounded or killed before, during and after elections for simply exercising their constitutional rights.
“When election violence occurs, the youths, their mothers, sisters and persons living with disabilities are the first victims. Today, we have come to say no to electoral violence.
“We hereby state our firm resolve to shun violence in the November 16th 2019 Off Cycle Governorship election in Kogi State. For us, non-violent and peaceful governorship election in November is non-negotiable.
“We remind all the political parties that the legitimacy of any government lies on its emergence from a peaceful, free, fair and credible election.