JALINGO, TARABA STATE—The Initiative for Community and Human Development (ICHD) in partnership with National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI), and Internal and Republican Institute (IRI), has called on Nigerians to shun the act of violence in the forthcoming general elections.
ICHD made the call at the Citizens stakeholders Radio Dialogue on 2023 Elections, a program held on Shimo FM 92.9, Jalingo on February 19, 2023. Conversing on the issues surrounding the electioneering process in Nigeria, the guest speakers, Dr. Talatu Buba Bello; Abel Lamido, a cleric and conflict resolution expert; Dr. Usman Bakari, Islamic scholar and Mr. Malik, condemned the act of electoral violence in the election and enjoined the youths to abstain from it.
ICHD’s Project Manager, Ibrahim Malik, said the organization which comes into existence in 2020 was to mitigate electoral violence which had become a common practice among Nigerian youths.
Malik said the violent acts have left several people injured, and lost lives while many public properties were being vandalized. Recounting his experiences with general elections in Nigeria, an Islamic scholar, Usman Bakari, stated that youths have been the ones engaging in violent acts, such as fighting and killing each other. “There are voices behind what these young adults are doing because they have people that are sponsoring them and are supporting them to behave like that.”
He added that to address the menace, ICHD had been liaising with relevant authorities to organize sensitization programs both physically to teach the youths about the causes of electoral violence.
Also recounting his experience, Rev. Abel Lamido narrated how he escaped from heavily-armed youths who were looting shops on their way coming from political rallies and all efforts of civil defense to stop them failed.
The story of violent electoral practices keeps going on and on and the question of whether or not violence is a part of the electoral processes was clarified by Dr. Talatu who explained the concept of politics as something that requires competition, struggling, mobilization to get some level of power, in her words. “Very soon Nigerians will be choosing their president and governors, different levels of power, before you get to this position you must contest and this political power is a scarce resource. For instance, the office of the president is just one, if you win you win, you lose you lose.
“I am not trying to justify the place of violence in elections but what I’m trying to say is that when there is a need to compete, there is tension, violence to some extent”.
She further stated that she had seen good examples of developed democracies that have conducted elections in a very peaceful manner, saying Nigeria still has a chance to conduct peaceful, free, and fair elections.
Speaking on solutions, Mr Malik highlighted the need for stakeholders [security, party leaders, religious leaders, community leaders] involvement in the electoral process. He stated that ending electoral violence was not a one-man but collective activity by putting all hands on deck.
Mr Malik maintained that ICHD has been addressing electoral violence with its series of engagements that are working towards mitigating electoral violence in Taraba State by forming a kind of state peace and mediation working committee which brings people with high levels of experience in terms of conflict management who are bent on staging high-level advocacy with all the stakeholders in the electoral process.
Similarly, Dr. Usman advised youths to take one another as their brothers, since they would not pick a knife to kill their father or siblings, then they shouldn’t kill other people’s parents or siblings. “In essence, youth should learn to treat one another as themselves,” he added.
More so, Rev. Abel beseeched security agencies to engage the political candidates to carry out a peaceful campaign free of violence and stop using the youths to perpetrate violent acts. “The youth should remain calm and suggest possible punishment for political leaders encouraging violence in youths,” Rev Abel stated.
Furthermore, Dr. Talatu enjoined the youths to properly manage the political space and placed themselves in a very strategic position and decide either live or die.
She further advised the youths not to die for any political candidates, letting out that there is no social contact between the population in Nigeria and the political leaders over the years.
“Nigerians have been deprived, are hungry, and there is structural violence everywhere, so would you choose to die for leaders that cannot give you good governance over the years? Tension is all over, cashless society, fuel scarcity, deprivation here and there, hunger, and so many uncertainties, youths be strategic, know who you want to vote for, and wait and watch, even if somebody wants to engage you to carry out violent activities remember that you need to live”.
However, a caller Lawani from Angwan Jorowa appreciates the NCHD for bringing up such a good topic and a conversation they have been anticipating in this period. He further urged youths to be aware and vote for credible leaders, adding that community leaders also have a role to play by gathering and sensitizing the youths.
Reporting by Rejoice Kungwa
Featured image: A fight breaks out over the alleged distribution of money for votes at a polling unit in Alagomeji-Yaba in Lagos on Feb. 23, 2019, during the general elections. Credit: CNN