By Hussaina Yakubu
#TrackNigeria: Kaduna Peace Commission says it is collaborating with the United Nations to sensitise the electorates to avoid a repeat of the violence that erupted in the state after the 2011 elections.
The Executive Vice chairman of the commission, Priscilla Ankut, said on Wednesday at the opening of a High Level Dialogue Forum on Peaceful Elections in Kaduna State.
Ankut explained that the dialogue was organized to bring together key stakeholders to commit themselves to peaceful conduct during the elections, in view of the state’s history of election violence.
She noted that the state is still rated as potentials flash point as the general elections approaches, but said the commission “is putting all mechanisms in place to ensure that elections violence doesn’t repeat itself in the state.”
According to her, although the state’s population is mainly composed of the youths, but lack adequate opportunities has made them vulnerable to manipulation by selfish interests.
She however assured that the peace commission would continue to manage conflicts and ensure that the narrative of violence is changed and harmonious coexistence prevail.
The vice chairman stressed that the peace commission has been meeting with various stakeholders towards peace building by engaging multiple actors.
According to her, the engagement facilitated the signing of a peace accord by all political party candidates, who agreed to avoid thuggery and hate speeches.
Ankut disclosed that the commission had set up an election monitoring committee consisting of party leaders and other stakeholders to monitor the conduct of campaigns.
She cautioned religious leaders to avoid partisanship, and encourage their congregations to embrace peaceful conduct during the elections.
“We are also engaging youths and preaching the message of peace while calling on media to ensure that their reports are based on issues that would douse tension and avoid spreading hate speeches by politician,” she said.
In his remarks, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, UN Special Representative in West Africa and the Sahel, called on all stakeholders in the election process to focus on issues, and shun spreading hate speeches and messages to bring about sustained peace and harmony in the state and across the country.
He reiterated UN support in promoting peaceful elections in Nigeria and consolidating democracy in line with ECOWAS principle on democracy and good governance.
“UN will continue to amplify that national peace committee and stakeholders double their efforts toward peaceful elections and guarantee fundamental human rights of citizens.
“Nigeria occupies front line position in West Africa, that is why it’s not surprising that the lesson of Nigeria is not for Nigeria alone but entire West Africa.
“This is our biggest country in the continent and strategically what goes wrong here is for all and if it doesn’t go well it affects all.
“That is why we want to see Nigeria prosper, if Nigeria is stable and prosperous we will all celebrate,” Chambas said.
He commended the effort of Kaduna peace commission for its contribution in sensitizing stakeholders towards peace building in the state.
The envoy explained that the meeting is to mobilize stakeholders on existing strategies to actively and peacefully resolve any emerging dispute.
“I wish to thank the political parties and candidates for committing themselves and signing the peace accord to ensure peaceful election,” he said.
He called on other States to emulate Kaduna while thanking all the stakeholders for their commitment to ensure peaceful election.
On his part, Abdullahi Kaugama, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, said the Independent National Electoral Commission was fully ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
He explained that training of election officials had commenced, and non sensitive election materials deployed to all the 23 local government areas in the state while sensitisation of voters was ongoing.
“The most important part of our arrangement now is the training of election officers, because once you don’t have good trained staff, things wouldn’t go smoothly, so we are training and retraining them,” he said.(NAN)