Agenda For Peace With Mr.rights: Election Postponement-there Is No Cause For Violence
It is no longer news that the 2015 presidential election has been postponed from February 14 to March 28, 2015. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have no other choice than listen to the advise of the nations security agencies which call for the election postponement, citing security reasons. While it may be true that the security agencies seems to be influenced by some political considerations, we must remain calm and give peace a chance since the action is still within the law.
Although, there are reasons to be worried.
Nigerians must be worried that, this government has had 6 years to fix the security of the nation, but it has failed to do so. Will a 6 weeks shift in the election make any difference? can the government defeat Boko Haram in 6 weeks? Again, what happens if after 6 weeks, the security situation didn't improve? Will there be additional demand for more weeks?
Certainly, the reason given by the security is not anything to go by, but still, we must keep faith.
Also, It has been observed that, some groups and section of the country have rejected the election postponement, but i want to urge everyone to take the decision as a temporary set back and not that which warrant any violent confrontation.
Violence cannot solve any problem,it only adds to it. Let us be calm and act with maturity.
As concerned Nigerians, even before the election postponement,we have been worried over the early warning signals of insecurity as a result of some pre-election violence that had been happening in some parts of the country. We have seen party supporters attacking each other rather than concentrating on issues of governance being rolled out by the intending leaders. Also, threats of war, violence and counter threats have littered our public space. But beyond the verbal threats by ex-militants and others, violent attacks had actually been happening in some parts of the country. It started in Rivers State and spread across states like Ondo, Gombe, Jos, Aba, Niger, Bauchi, Kaduna, Ebonyi, Lagos, Abia and others.
In these regrettable and condemnable attacks, people have been shot dead, buildings had been bombed, Vehicles set ablaze, property destroyed and human dignity violated.
What is the cause of this violence? They say its the 2015 election.
We must ask ourselves, Why should the election be about violence? why should it be about destruction of lives and properties? In my view, this shouldn't be the case because election doesn't call for violence. Let use the opportunity of 6weeks postponement to correct some of those negativity observed.
We must make it known to all relevant stake holders that it is our duty to prevent violence in this election at all cost, no person should face death to cast a vote, no one should encounter violence as a result of the candidate they support and no one should be attacked or violated for the choice they made. Chose yours, let others chose theirs. There is no cause for violence.
This message is directed to all Nigerians, particularly the leadership of this nation, all political parties, traditional rulers, religious leaders/organization, youths and students, civil society organizations, Police and other security agencies and most importantly, the Nigerian press. We are simply saying, No one should be blackmailed or prevented from making their own free choice, there should be no hate message or threats of violence. It's election not war, there is no cause for violence.
Furthermore, It is on record that violence is one of the greatest threats to free and fair elections. However, investigation shows that,the emergence of electoral violence is not a result of the process being followed,but signals a critical departure from the accepted rules that govern the process. Therefore, all stake holders must play their role in ensuring that the political parties do not deviate from the acceptable rules that govern the process.
While it is true that a peace accord had been signed by the leading contenders,we must go beyond signatures and work collectively for peace.
In view of this, every Nigerian must assume their rightful duties and champion the cause of maintaining peace in the country before,during and after the 2015 election.
Looking from an observers point of view, we have identified 3 important stake holders that would play leading role in maintaining peace in this election. The 3 stakeholders include the following:
1. National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organizations
2. The Press
3. Police and other security agencies
NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION AND OTHER CSO'S
Apart from the political parties and INEC, National Human Rights Commission is a key stakeholder. The duty of NHRC is enormous in an electoral year. First, the commission must lead in mobilizing all other civil society organizations to serve as advocates for citizen's enlightenment and sensitization. It must educate the people about the human rights aspect of the electoral laws and bring to public awareness, the variety of electoral crimes which the people must desist from engaging in. The commission must bring parties together and impress the need to follow lay down rules aswell as threats of prosecution should they erred.It must also prepare itself to compile a comprehensive report on human rights violations during the election, particularly those committed by security agencies and others and ensure culprits are brought to book. While it is true that the commission have been playing some roles before now, I believe it needs to double it efforts now, as this is the most critical period in build up to the election. Let the nation feel the commissions impact in this election, let its voice be heard, let us know what it stands for and what role it has been playing to ensure a peaceful election .
We must ask ourselves, is it possible for the media to play a role in preventing election violence in 2015? The answer is yes. The role of the media in election processes is complex. Election depends heavily on the media to reach and engage people, but more often than not, it has a polarizing effect.
When the media report certain contents, it polarize the people and instigate them into violence. This is why the press must see itself as a major champion of peace or of violence. A single instigating report from the media could lead people into violence that may claim several lives and in the same vain, a reassuring report could calm nerves and make people be peaceful.
We have seen the public reaction to a death wish advert for a presidential candidate, such reports are uncalled for. It shouldn't be published by the press. It is derogatory, abusive,inciting and provocative. Such kind of reports must be avoided.
The press must resist temptation of reporting sponsored content capable of instigating people into violence. It must be unbiased in its reporting and maintain professionalism.
THE POLICE AND OTHER SECURITY AGENCIES
The police and other security agencies must maintain security objective in relation to the election with more emphasis on the impartiality during maintaining the security of election process,not misusing security facilities for the benefits of specific groups in election, make details of offenses against electoral laws,uphold the standards of professional,impartial,neutral and non-intimidating conduct.
From every indication, the security agencies seems to have been politically influenced, but that must be discontinued. Security agencies must not be seen to be working for the political benefits of certain groups or individuals, because should such politicization continue, it a bad sign of ugly incidents to come.
The police must ensure the effective policing of the electoral polling units and in the post election phase,focus on the provision of visible service,the investigation of crime,provision of man power, support of police by means of logistics and maintenance of community relations.
The police in collaboration with the national human rights commission,representative of civil society organizations and the press also need to form a joint committee to evaluate the complains on police dependency and threats and take necessary actions.
I am of the opinion that, should all this stake holders perform their role well, the level of violence before the election would be reduced and that will limit similar occurrence during and after the election.
As we awaits the election in 6 weeks time, let us put the interest of the nation first in our consideration for a choice of leader.
We must elect someone that can secure the nation, improve its economy and provide massive jobs for our teeming youths.
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