By Friday Idachaba
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) on Thursday urged political parties and their candidates contesting the Nov. 16 governorship election in Kogi to engage electorates on issue-based campaigns to avoid heating the polity.
Mr Bem Aga, Senior Programmes Manager of NDI, who made the call on Thursday at a political parties Peace Forum held in Lokoja, said the call was part of measures to prevent violence before, during and after the election.
Aga said there was need to avert crisis in the campaign and the election proper by checking unguarded utterances and statements coming from the parties as the development could create tension and violence in the forthcoming polls.
He said that the NDI in collaboration with the Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID), USAID, UKAID, and 2baba Foundation, were working round the clock to engage political parties on the need to shun violence.
The NDI programmes manager stressed that the experience of the people in the last General Elections was disgusting and unacceptable, saying there was need to nip the widespread malpractices and violence in the bud.
He called on INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders to abide by the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Law in the discharge of their duties.
He said that the NDI had identified some hot spots prone to crisis in the state especially, during elections and had commended engagement of youths historically identified as instruments of electoral violence.
“The essence of this meeting is to sensitise youths leaders across the 23 political parties on electoral offences and to inform them about the dangers it poses to our democracy.
“At the end of this meeting, there will be a written commitment from each parties announcing to the world that they are ready to promote peace, before during and after the election,” Aga said.
Earlier, the acting Executive Director, PIBCID, Halima Sadiq, said the need for peace could not be overemphasised, adding that attainment of peace was a collective effort that could not be achieved by an individual.
The acting executive director was represented by Mr Bernard Ajiwole, Programme Officer, “Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War” campaign in Kogi, stressed that the targeted audience were the youths of the state who had been at the forefront of illegality during elections.
In his remark, the Deputy Publicity Secretary, PDP, Kogi, Mohammed Kabir, said the party would continue to remain an ambassador of peace not only in the state but also in the country.