Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says Nigeria must create space for inclusion in electoral processes and ensure a peaceful election due to its very strategic position in the region.
The Commission said that due to Nigeria’s huge population, it is working tirelessly to ensure electoral processes are conducted peacefully to avoid anything that could lead to conflict, and warned that the region lacks the capacity to contain potential refugees. .
This was revealed by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Amb. Abel Fatau, at the opening of a training and interactive on “Using dialogue and mediation as tools to prevent and/or mitigate election-related disputes and violence”, in Jos, the capital of Plateau state.
The interactive and training session included participants from the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) that spanned the geopolitical zones of the center-north and northeast of the country.
Fatau, who was represented by the Commission’s Program Officer, Mediation, Dr. Brown Odigie, said: “The essence of the program is to bring together stakeholders, IPAC leadership from the North-Central and North-East geopolitical zones, so that they can dialogue, discuss, exchange ideas about the level of preparation for the 2023 general election in Nigeria.
“In the hope of ensuring that all stakeholders play their part, including the police and INEC, to ensure a peaceful, free, fair and credible election that is acceptable to all Nigerians.
“Generating spaces for dialogue and inclusion in electoral processes is key; because once you deny that inclusion factor; creates an opportunity for people to resort to violence.
“Complaints can be filed and collectively, we look at contentious issues and find common ground.
“We are doing it specifically for Nigeria because Nigeria is strategic in ECOWAS.
“Nigeria has a huge population; Elections are a period that can lead to conflict and, if not managed effectively, has the potential to snowball into violence.
“And when violence happens, with Nigeria’s huge population, it can spread to other neighboring countries.
“And I can assure you that no ECOWAS member country will have the capacity to host refugees from Nigeria.
“For this reason, we do everything possible to encourage the interested parties to dialogue, analyzing contentious issues and looking for ways to resolve them amicably in order to have a peaceful outcome,” he emphasized.
In her remarks, the Program Officer of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Liaison Office in Nigeria, Ms. Sa’adatu Shuaibu, said that the training is part of the efforts UNOWAS JOINTS with ECOWAS to support member states in their efforts to hold peaceful, inclusive and credible elections and consolidate democracy.
“As part of its efforts to ensure peaceful, credible and inclusive elections in Nigeria, UNOWAS has carried out various engagements with national stakeholders.
“He engaged with the Nigerian authorities, parties, some presidential candidates, civil society organizations, the independent national electoral commission (INEC), the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and members of the diplomatic corps on the need to strengthen peace. , democracy, development and good governance in Nigeria”.
In his speech, IPAC National Secretary Yusuf Dantalle said: “A free, fair, credible, transparent, inclusive, peaceful and acceptable election is the beauty and foundation of democracy.
According to him, the 2023 general elections are critical for a sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
“The success of the elections will be a defining moment for our compatriots who want and yearn for transformative, visionary, progressive, determined and resourceful leaders who will restore Nigeria as the great arsenal of democracy in Africa,” he said.
Also speaking, Plateau State Police Commissioner Bartholomew Onyeka, represented by ACP Ejike Ochiabutor, said: “The Plateau State Police Command under my supervision as the lead law enforcement agency in the state has involved several viable strategic measures to ensure that the upcoming general elections are conducted peacefully without any problems throughout the State.
He said: “The Command has conducted effective sensitization of its officers and critical stakeholders in the state on virtually all of the rules that guide the conduct of elections.”
“We have made golden plans on the best way to deploy, protect the integrity of the electoral process and make sure that the elections are credible for everyone, taking the past elections as a case study,” he said.
Representative of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Egwurube Otokpa, the ECOWAS Commission has taken a unique and very important step that will undoubtedly help to strengthen information channels and deepen relationships between stakeholders and promote collaborations generalized about the common problems they face. and if one of them arises, they are dealt with collectively.
“We also urge the participation of the actors in this forum so that they act and behave responsibly even in the face of defeat or when they are victorious because in an electoral contest there must be a loser and a winner.