As Nigerians count down to the general elections, the Executive Director, Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi has called on all stakeholders to shun electoral violence. She made this call at a stakeholder workshop organized by the National Association for Peaceful Elections in Nigeria (NAPEN) with the support of the International
As Nigerians count down to the general elections, the Executive Director, Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi has called on all stakeholders to shun electoral violence.
She made this call at a stakeholder workshop organized by the National Association for Peaceful Elections in Nigeria (NAPEN) with the support of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).
The workshop themed “2015 Elections: Role of stakeholders in ensuring zero tolerance to electoral violence” had in attendance women, traders, human rights activists and members of the civil society.
Abiola observed that violent conflict has been a major challenge for stable democratic order and sustainable development in Nigeria.
“The relationship between democratic governments that emerged in the post-colonial history provided impetus for violent conflict that has become a daily reality and occurrence in the country. Conflict has been particularly widespread and persistent, in the last ten years or more, growing in frequency, extent and sophistication” she added.
She further blamed electoral violence on lack of internal democracy among political parties, flaws in the electoral act and the inadequacies of the electoral body. She bemoaned attempts by politicians and political parties to blindfold the people into perpetrating electoral violence.
“Much of the time, politicians and political parties have shunned issues and instead had projected sentiments. Much of these sentiments which easily appeal to base instincts are often used to mobilize poor people often disillusioned with the system and are desperate for some change. In election times, they are easily moved to defend what they assumed are in their interest even if it will mean employing violence means” she said.
Abiola called on all stakeholders to direct their energies at interventions at community level to ensure violence mitigation before and in the period immediately after the 2015 elections; and support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in ensuring peaceful elections.
Also speaking at the workshop, Prince Toyin Raheem, Coordinator, Campaign for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (CCHR) noted that violence cannot bring development to any society and peaceful consultation is the better alternative.
“It is always better to discuss and consult one another. We must learn to tolerate one and another and approach the election in a very peaceful manner. Election can be likened to a form of sport that cannot be played by just one person; two or more persons or groups are always involved. So we cannot have election if only one person is participating, therefore, there must be a winner and a loser. Political parties and candidates should call their followers to order. Defacing and removal of posters should be frowned at as this abnormality foments violence. The media should accord all the political parties equal access to coverage. There are more than 20 political parties in Nigeria, yet, the media propagate just two. Through this, the media has not been fair enough to the other parties and this only engenders inequality and violence” he said.
Other speakers at the workshop are Mrs. Mary Peluola George, Senior Program Officer, WARDC; Hon. Abimbola Tijani, Paralegal Coordinator, WARDC and Mr. Ifeanyi Adigwe, Program Officer, NAPEN.
The workshop is part of series of interventions by WARDC and NAPEN with the support of IFES to engage stakeholders on elections in Nigeria.