Free, credible elections will promote peaceful coexistence – UNDP
… We are grateful to UNDP for this dialogue – Participants
Nigerians have been urged to ensure that the coming general elections are free, fair and credible in order to promote peaceful coexistence, build strong institutions and foster sustainable development.
This advice was given by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP’s Resident Representative, Ms Khardiata Lo Ndiaye in Akure-Ondo State while speaking at the opening ceremony of the “High-Level Stakeholders’ Dialogue on Peaceful and Violence-Free General Elections in Nigeria” which took place at the International Centre for Culture and Events, Akure.
“Our aim at UNDP is to ensure that everyone is equipped with the necessary knowledge and awareness levels required to promote peace and stability and more importantly, to be able to activate and deepen the culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.”
According to her, there is the need for Nigerians, especially the major stakeholders such as the electoral body, political parties, the politicians, the police, other security agencies, the citizens as well as the media to ensure that the forthcoming general elections are conducted in the atmosphere that is free, fair, very peaceful and devoid of violence.
She said that the time has come for Nigerians to promote peaceful elections and inclusive society where there’s sustainable development goal and access to justice for all, building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
“The investment to promote good governance and peaceful co-habitation in Nigeria will help government and the people to live in harmony if the elections are conducted according to best practices.”
The host Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, while declaring the workshop open, also urged all stakeholders to support the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
Akeredolu, who was represented by his Deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, enjoined Nigerians to vote for credible candidates and embrace peace before, during and after the electioneering processes.
Another southwest Governor, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, speaking through Dr. Olalekan Yinusa, the Supervisor in-charge of the Ministry of Budget, Economic Planning and Development, reiterated the need for stakeholders to desist from any acts capable of derailing the nation’s peace and stability.
“For the summit to achieve its purpose and the nation to continue to witness peace and development, all the critical stakeholders, politicians, political parties, INEC, the media and security agencies as well as the electorates must all resolve to play according to the rules of the game.” he said.
In his address, the representative of the security agencies at the workshop and Ondo State Commissioner of Police, AC Adegoke Alani warned various unions, especially the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, against any form of violence ahead of the general elections.
“As part of our efforts to curb violence during the election, we have been working with other key stakeholders towards ensuring that the elections will not only be peaceful, but any act capable of distorting the peace of the state will not be tolerated as suspect will face the full wrath of the law.”
Speaking further, Alani gave the assurance that the police will not be an instrument of intimidation against the citizens or groups, but will carry out their responsibility by ensuring safety of lives and property.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, while commending the UNDP for organising the workshop, called on all stakeholders to have the love and oneness of the country at heart.
Many other dignitaries and organisations such as CAN, JNI, NCWS, NOA, INEC and the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, among others, also deliver their good will messages at the event, calling on all stakeholders to ensure peaceful electioneering processes.
Different segments and diverse groups of the society that has one thing or the other to do with peaceful polls were ably represented.
Speaking to our Correspondent, some of the participants at the event expressed their gratitude to UNDP for having the opportunity of being exposed to such educative training which they believe will have a lasting impact on them for the rest of their lives with the mindset of passing on to other people who were not opportune to be at the program