Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu has reaffirmed that the 2019 general elections will be peaceful, free, fair and credible. Speaking when he received the head of ECOWAS Election Observer Mission for the 2019 elections, Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the INEC headquarters, Abuja. Yakubu says he is looking forward to the
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu has reaffirmed that the 2019 general elections will be peaceful, free, fair and credible.
Speaking when he received the head of ECOWAS Election Observer Mission for the 2019 elections, Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the INEC headquarters, Abuja. Yakubu says he is looking forward to the reports and recommendations from the mission, promising that the election will be a landmark event.
Sirleaf, a former Liberian President, says the purpose of her visit is to meet with all the authorities in the electoral process to understand more than she has read on the process so far, adding that the main task for the mission will begin next week when she and the full team return to Nigeria.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu while welcoming Sirleaf and the team thanked ECOWAS for accepting INEC’s invitation.
Yakubu has also restated his commitment to peaceful election. He gave the assurance on Tuesday in Abuja while receiving Women for Peace group seeking to promote peaceful election. The INEC boss said that the commission was following gender policy that allowed women to express their feelings while assuring them that the elections will be credible.
He noted that in developed countries, women were the best pedestal for credible elections and therefore applauded the group for the move to ensuring peaceful polls. “It is interesting to know that women in our society are coming out to support peace and mobilise women to vote. We as a commission will continue to be an equal opportunities commission, making sure that no one is left behind.”
“Celebrating election is our main objective via gender mainstreaming and providing access for the participation of persons with disabilities. “We play our own part to sensitise, but will leave the mobilisation of voters to National Orientation Agency (NOA) and others involved,’’ he says.
Recalling that women have the highest number in terms of voting, he urged women to exercise their rights and vote, assuring the group that the commission was ready to partner with them towards achieving peaceful, transparent, credible and acceptable election.
In a related development, thousands of young Nigerians, including youth corps members, on Tuesday in Abuja marched against electoral violence and vote buying ahead of the forthcoming general elections.
Tagged “Vote Not Fight National Day of Action Peace Walk’’, the event held simultaneously in the 36 states of the federation, according to the organisers. The walk, which had young people as its primary targets, provided a platform for participants to advocate for peace before, during and after the elections billed for Feb. 16 and March 2.
It was organised by the Youngstars Development Initiative (YDI) in partnership with the 2Baba Foundation and the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The Abuja leg of the walk, which began at the Unity Fountain, saw the participants bearing posters, placards and banners with different inscriptions denouncing electoral violence.
Speaking at event, the Executive Director of YDI, Mr Kingsley Bangwell, urged young people to be champions of peace before, during and after the election. “We know that young people are those that have the energy and the strength to perpetrate any form of violence, but we are telling them not to respond to that act”.
“The message is simple; they should go out and vote on Feb. 16 and March 2, and when they go out they should conduct themselves peacefully. They should vote and stay away from any form of violence, hate speech and vote buying.”
“We want a peaceful nation. Otherwise, if there is violence after the election, who are you going to govern? We all need peaceful atmosphere because there can be no meaningful development in the absence of peace,” he said.
The Country Director of YALI, Ms Awele Otakpor, likened young people who either sell their votes or allow themselves to be used as political thugs to “dead men walking”. “If you sell your vote, you sell your future. Do not allow any party to use you. If you do not want to vote, sit down at home.”
“But if you do not vote, you don’t have the right to criticise or complain about any bad leader that emerges from your negligence. If you allow yourself to be sold or be used for political thuggery, then you don’t have a say in anything that has to do with your country.”
She advised Nigerians to monitor the ongoing political campaigns by the various parties across the country to be able to make informed choices at the polls. Mr Bem Aga, senior programme manager, National Democratic Institute (NDI), one of the sponsors of the event, called for policies and legislation to pave way for the emergence of young leaders in public offices.
Aga urged stakeholders, including the National and State Assemblies and the Presidency to approve independent candidacy in the electoral process through the amendment of the Constitution. The event was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and its United Kingdom counterpart, UKAID.