Engage in issue-based campaigns, not violent activities – CDD to politicians

Ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has urged political parties to engage in issue-based campaigns.

The Centre also urged the political parties to shun activities which may potentially incite violence among members and opponents alike.

In a communique released by the CDD on Friday, August 7, 2020, after a civil society organisations (CSOs) roundtable on the 2020 off-cycle governorship election in Benin, Edo state, the Centre said all political parties should agree to sign a peace treaty ahead of the polls.

The roundtable organised to examine the unfolding political events characterising the election also created a platform for civil society actors to interface with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on its preparedness in the lead up to the election. 

Urging politicians to comply with the rules and regulations governing the conduct of elections in Nigeria, CDD said there should be a deviation from character assassinations and an increased focus on engagement and development of the state.

The Centre also urged security agencies (particularly the Police) to hold perpetrators of the ongoing pre-election violence accountable as a necessary condition to encourage participation in the election.

The Police were also tasked to prioritise intelligence gathering and commit to mop up the Small arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) currently circulating in the state, and resist political influence. 

According to the CDD, security agencies should be wary of allowing the undue interference of political actors in the management of security situation and make necessary arrests in cases of organised violence stemming from political parties.

In addition, the electoral body was urged to implement a robust voter education programmes to promote the participation of voters at the polls, strengthen its engagement with CSOs in planning and implementing voter education programmes, as well as creating avenues for CSO actors to support the conduct of a credible election.

CDD also called on INEC to communicate frequently and in a sustained manner, with relevant stakeholders (including traditional rulers, CSOs, political parties, etc.) on any matter relating to the preparations for the forthcoming election.

INEC was also asked to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health and security agencies to enforce compliance to the commission’s Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  

“Strict measures should be put in place to ensure full compliance of voters, ad-hoc staff and other actors in the election. These include the use of PPE materials, social distancing, infrared thermometers, and the provision of on-site health officials to inspect persons who display any symptoms of COVID-19,” the communique said.

Also, it added that there is be a strict implementation of INEC Framework on Access And Participation Of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).

CSOs participating in election observation were urged to facilitate the signing of a peace treaty by political parties and their candidates ahead of the governorship election, observe the strict implementation of the peace pact if signed by the candidate and support the INEC in its voter education programmes to enlighten eligible voters on participating in the elections, and to dissuade individuals against election violence.

The CSOs were also called on to demand accountability from INEC, especially in the face of continued problems around the conduct of elections and prioritise civic education that focuses on mandate protection.

Traditional and religious leaders were advised to desist from making political statements or from publicly expressing support for any political parties and their candidates. 

“Such public statements could deepen the tensions that already characterise the election,” the communique added.

Organisations represented at the meeting include the Community-based Initiatives for a Brighter Tomorrow (CIBT), Solomon Sheperd Foundation (SSF), Willi Johnson Foundation (WJF), Association of Professionals for Family Health, Empowerment and Community Development (APFFHECOD), Unique Love for PWDI and Josemaria Escrivia Foundation (JOSEF).

Others are Edo Civil Society Organization (EDOCSO), Wise Sisters Charity Organisation, Initiative for Girls and Women Empowerment, Kairos Youth Empowerment Initiative, Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC Benin), Indomitable Youths Organisation (IYO), SOTHAWACA, Take a Cue Development Initiatives, Youth Empowerment Project, African Women Empowerment Guild (AWEG), Lift Above Poverty (LAPO), National Council for Islamic Affairs (NCIA),  Conference of NON Governmental Organisations (CONGOs), amongst others.

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