By Iduozee Paul, Benin
Gov. Godwin Obaseki
The Edo State Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and an NGO known as; National Democratic Institute (NDI) have urged youths in Edo State not to be involved in thuggery and shun violence in the forthcoming governorship election.
Addressing participants at an event organized by the National Democratic Institute, NDI, with the theme: “Securing the 2020 Governorship Election in Edo State: Role Of Stakeholders Consensus Commitment and Collective Action”, on the need to sensitize youths in the state to avoid violence during elections, in Benin City, the resident electoral commission, INEC Edo State, Dr Johnson Alalibo, said INEC is ready to work with all stakeholders in the state to ensure free and fair elections.
He said the security agencies are working with INEC to ensure free elections.
Alalibo said the commission is also going to work with all security agencies to ensure the youth shun violence, and also protect sensitive and non-sensitive material after the elections.
The REC said INEC had written to all political parties on the type of language and words and they would use during the campaigns as well as jingles in various media organizations.
“I want to thank the NGO for organizing this programme at this time. My appeal is that the youths are the ones that are more vulnerable to electoral violence. We have to talk to them that if we want to have free and fair elections, we have to shun violence.
“There are existing laws and guidelines prohibiting violence during campaigns. The electoral Act 2010 stipulates all those laws and we are going to look at it. It starts from campaign, the violence. The various political parties should educate and sensitize their youth on the need to shun violence,” Alalibo stressed .
Representative of the state commissioner of police, ACP Ayo Faniyan, assured the NDI that the police will partner with the organization and all stakeholders to ensure free, fair and credible elections in Edo State come September 19, 2000.
ACP Faniyan said the police is ready and committed to work with all stakeholders to ensure free elections and thanked the NDI for identifying the youth as a focal point in the governorship election.
He emphasized that as far as security is concerned, all hands must be on deck to conduct free elections in Edo State.
In his remarks, the executive director of Connected Advocacy for Empowerment and Youth Development Initiative, Israel Orekha, said youths have been at the center of election-related violence in Edo State and other parts of Nigeria since the country’s return to democratic rule in 1999.
He said the root causes of youth involvement in electoral violence include poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, under employment and drug abuse.
Senior program manager, National Democratic Institute, Ben Aga, called on Edo youths to shun violence and embrace peace during the elections. He urged them to embrace change and not allow themselves to be used as thugs to cause violence during the election.
In her goodwill message, the representative of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Ose Akhahon, said NOA has gone to the 18 local government areas in the state to sensitize the youth and women on the need to shun violence during and after the elections.
Also, the NOA assistant director Political Civic, Ethics and Value said the agency would continue to educate them to avoid violence in the elections.