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KDI charges stakeholders in electoral process on violence-free, credible poll

By Olawale Adewale, The Nigerian Voice, Osogbo 
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A youth based civil society group, Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) has charged all stakeholders in electoral process to conduct themselves in manner that would ensure free, fair, transparent and violence-free elections in Nigeria.

The Executive Director of KDI who is also the Coordinator of Nigeria Election Violence Report, South West hub, Mr Bukola Idowu gave the charge at a press conference organized by KDI in respect to NEVR Project for the 2019 General Elections.

Idowu urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, candidates, youth leaders, security officers and the political gladiators to act in manner that would ensure peaceful atmosphere in the country before, during and after the elections.

He noted that the NEVR project is supported by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

He explained that the project focuses on developing the capacity of civil society to monitor, analyze and respond to incidents of election-related conflict before, during and after elections in Nigeria and to promote collaboration and dialogue between election stakeholders in order to mitigate and or prevent election violence.

His words "To accomplish these objectives, IFES through KDI engage monitors throughout hotspot states in South West geo-political zone during the pre-election, Election Day and post-election periods. KDI will also distribute public awareness materials and engage in public education during this process."

"This combination of activities will strengthen the partners ability to reinforce peace in their communities and to help prevent tensions from escalating into violence."

Idowu highlighted the methodology and Key findings of KDI pre-Election Survey/Hotspot Mapping.

He said "Kimpact Development Initiatives commitment to deepening democratic processes incites her to embark on an assessment of electoral risk factors in the six states of the south west geo-political zone of Nigeria ahead of the 2019 general elections with a view to explore opinions, knowledge and non-violence expectations regarding 2019 general elections".

He said the effort was also to examine real and potential security threats in the zone so as to identify early warning signals that could assist relevant stakeholders, especially the INEC, security agencies and civil society organisations (CSOs) to deploy appropriate responses.

He said the pre-election survey had sample size of 2,722 respondents across South West gotten through a web-based experiment.

According to him, "There are diverse degrees of concern in the 6 states of the South West with the 3 states on Amber: Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, while Lagos and Oyo are the 2 states on Red based on the findings of the survey. The findings also suggest that Osun State could have a certain degree of peace in the forthcoming elections."

"However, most persons (65.3%) in the south west Nigeria believes the election will be peaceful, but the bone of contention is the colossal amount (28.3%) that are uncertain about having peaceful elections due to issues around activities of political party leaders, political thugs, hate speech, partiality/low professionalism of security agencies and INEC Officials and unclear voting procedures."

"With all these aforementioned concerns, providing impartial voice on electoral violence through citizen observation with the ultimate goal of ending the culture of impunity by documenting and publishing disaggregated electoral violence data, is key and needed so as to inform relevant stakeholder on why election violence needs to be mitigated."

"IFES through KDI trained and deployed 106 monitors throughout hotspot local government areas in South West geo-political zone during the Pre-election, Election Day and Post-election periods."

"Several peace initiatives such as advocacy meetings and town hall meetings have been held and still ongoing in each states of the south west to discuss with key stakeholders so as to mitigate political tensions that may lead to electoral violence.

"Over 6000 pledge cards will be circulated to get commitment of the citizens to peacefully participate in the 2019 general elections. 18 billboards bearing nonviolence messaging will be mounted across the 18 senatorial districts of the south west. A toll free line (0800001000) would be made available as a medium where the public can also report any incident of violence in their communities.

Idowu warned that no development is possible in the atmosphere void of peace and urged youths to avoid being used as instrument to foment violence, saying that peace for one is peace for all.

"We request that all candidates involved in the forthcoming elections should ensure a peaceful atmosphere for all by ensuring that all their followers are not going to be instrument to cause violence in any area of the state, and bear in mind that there is no blood of any Nigerians that worth their political ambitions."

"We request that the security agencies should be impartial, fair and ensure justice in the discharge of their roles during the forthcoming election as any act of partisanship can jeopardize the peace in our country", Idowu warned.

Idowu also charged the media on accurate and unbiased reportage of election matters.