2023: CSO Tasks Community Leaders on Peaceful, Participatory Elections

  Godspeed Leadership and Mentorship Development Initiative (GLEMDI), a Civil Society Organization, has called on community leaders to educate their communities on the need for peaceful and participatory election.

Executive Director, GLEMDI, Habila Kayit, made the call at a Community Leaders Roundtable on participation and violence free 2023 elections themed : “Towards a Participatory and Violence Free Election” held in Abuja.

According to Kayit, the 2023 General Elections is an important activity for Nigeria, hence the need to begin conversations on how to make it free, fair and credible.

He said the conversations should centre on electoral education on the caliber of leaders to elect and how not to be manipulated or induced into making the wrong choices.

Kayit said the bane of Nigeria is the lack of firm and committed leaders that should place it at the development height it deserves.

“People do not participate fully when it comes to elections.  Politicians seize this opportunity and use few people and influence the political process.

“We are very intentional about this, because we look forward to seeing a beautiful outing in 2023 where citizens will unanimously elect someone who will fix the country.

“The campaigns are on and politicians are doling out promises; citizens should read in-between the lines to understand their message in order not to vote based on ethnicity and religious inclination.

“We call on community leaders who are closer, understand their communities and can communicate with their people in a clearer language to sensitise them on the need to be intentional about who to vote and why they should be peaceful in their conduct,’’ he said.

The GLEMDI executive director said people have the right to decide to be used to cause violence or not.

According to him, when people express dissatisfaction with existing systems and are not willing to be tools in the hands of politicians, the nation would certainly get it right.

Kayit said the Electoral Act, as amended, has boosted the confidence of many citizens to participate in 2023 election, because of the understanding that their votes would count.

He stressed the need for citizens to work hard to sustain peace in the country adding, “there is no better time for us to have a peaceful society than now.

“We need a country where citizens will be allowed to exercise their franchise without being intimidated.”

Also speaking, Mr Marthins Abbas, co-Founder, Partnership for Issue-based Campaign in Nigeria, said the programme was aimed at drawing up new lessons from community actors.

He said that traditional rulers were key factors in election matter as custodians of traditions and customs in the communities, adding, ”they  reverred by their people, so can talk to them on electoral participation.”

Abbas urged citizens to engage politicians on issue-based campaigns especially those that affect them.

“This is because, you do not get what you deserve, you get what you negotiated for,” he said.

One of the participants, Ms Ene Okwulu, blamed citizens for low voter turnout because of the belief that their votes do not count.

“I always ask them, if your votes don’t count, why politicians come to you to induce or ask you to vote for them,” he added.

Okwulu advised Nigerians to come out and exercise their mandate in the 2023 General Elections and make a difference. (NAN)