By Iduozee Paul, Benin
The director general, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Bakut Bukut, has decried the high incidents of violence and killings that characterized the recent Kogi and Bayelsa elections, describing the development as a mess in the country’s democracy.
The director general who was represented at the event by the principal research fellow, Chidozie Acholomi Douglas at a one day post- election dialogue organized for stakeholders in Edo State, said their goal is to encourage the use of dialogue to foster understanding, advance democracy and create a less divisive environment among the citizenry in elections.
“We are all witnesses to the wanton carnage, criminality and destruction that regularly occur during election seasons. Only recently, we witnessed the regrettable violence that was recorded in the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections.
“As currently observed political disputants in Nigeria have not explored the option of dialogue or, non-violent approach to conflict resolution , a more positive approach to engaging issues. With the raising spate of political violence, a lot of concern is being expressed on the threat these incidences constitute to our democracy.
” It is in the light of this that the programme is designed to convene and engage in a dialogue process with relevant stakeholders in order to understand the dynamics and perspectives of election related conflicts in the state, particularly the post-elections conflict.”
He said the goal is to foster understanding among stakeholders.
“We want to increase among participants an understanding for the relevance of dialogue and proffer solutions to the challenges anticipated in electoral processes including issues of intra-party democracy.
“We want to encourage the opening of opportunities for dialogue among political disputants to find what roles can be played by various stakeholders and how these processes can be gender inclusive for effective outcomes. ”
Looking at the role of women in elections, the executive director, Women Youths and Children Advancement Program Voters , Edo State, urged women to always support themselves to attain political offices.
Agatha Osieke, lamented non-representation of women in political offices in Edo State. She said out of 24 lawmakers in the Edo State House of Assembly no of them is a woman.
Osieke who is also the secretary, Nigeria League of Women Voters , Edo State said women should project their issues as she advised women to register with the League to enable it champion the issue on women.
Pastor Orobor Augustine, a political analyst and social crusader harped on the need to educate women. He stressed the need for all sectors of the society to play their role patriotically in order to free election from violence.
Other participants who spoke at the event condemned vote buying in Nigeria politics by political leaders to achieve their selfish interests, warning that except drastic effort is made to remedy the situation, subsequent elections will be worse than what happened in recent polls in Kogi and Bayelsa states.