Nigerian elections threated by violence, says NOA
The National Orientation Agency (NOA), has expressed worry over the rising violence during the recent presidential and Senatorial elections across the country, stressing that it was a threat to the country.
It, therefore, called on candidates of various political parties in the election not to view the process as a do-or-die affair. He also cautioned Nigerians against electoral violence and work towards peace and stability in the country.
Director General, NOA, Dr Garba Abari, disclosure this in Abuja while speaking at the breakfast meeting with journalists on the aftermath of 2023 general election, organized by NOA in collaboration with Alert International and support from the United Kingdom Conflict Security and Stability Fund (CSSF).
He said: “One of the biggest challenges of our country is in managing post-election situations. In our country, we still close schools and restrict movement on election day just to ensure that citizens do not run into violence associated with elections. Our history is replete with the story of violence since we chose to practice democracy as a way of selecting leadership in our country.
“Today, the challenge facing us is how to sustain the peace and stability in the country. It is at times like this that patriots, elder statesmen and women as well as men and women of goodwill who put country over self must rise up to be counted.
“Reasonable voices should be counted on the side of moderation, and temperate conversation. We must all be sensitive and circumspect in the things that we say, write or show on our screens. I call on the major stakeholders in the political events that are unfolding to rein in their key supporters”, Abari said.
He added that in any election, one candidate must emerge as the winner. “It is not unusual that some will feel dissatisfied after any election. This is so because, in the case of an electoral contest for the position of President, only one candidate can win at a time. Our current situation where more than one political party are claiming victory holds ominous signs for the polity if not delicately managed.
“It is in view of this and our mandate for building national cohesion that I am hosting this breakfast meeting with the media to enlist your support for moderation and conflict sensitivity reportage of the unfolding events after the declaration of a winner at the Presidential elections.
“Let our conversation be temperate, conflict-sensitive and moderate so that followers of various political parties are not incited to violence.”
Adding: “I have a special appeal to the media. You have a role to play now. Do not magnify the political narratives that divide our country and our people. Democracy is about the contest of ideas and was never meant to produce violent outcomes. Let us all work towards the peace that we so desire for us and generations yet unborn.
“As we approach the next set of elections this weekend, it is important that our people continue to conduct themselves in a peaceful and orderly manner as we continue to work together towards a violence-free and credible elections.”
In his remarks, the Country Director, of Nigeria International Alert, Paul Nyulaku, explained that their aim was to build stability, douse and de-escalation tensions among groups.
He said: “At International Alert, we are a core peace-building organization, focused on building stability and ensuring that wherever there are tensions or disagreement between groups, we do all that we can to come in between to see how different groups can come together towards de-escalation.
“We work very closely with other civil society groups; we have seen most of the reports that have come out but the focus for us is how key stakeholders can open a conversation that will help us to chart forward towards building stability, de-escalation of whatever tension and all together, see how we can join our hands together towards building peace.”