A coalition of youths oriented Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Oyo state have charged both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nigeria Police Force to be professional and neutral as well to be fair to all political parties without any form of bias in the discharge of their responsibilities before, during and after the election day.
These was contained in a separate documents submitted to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) and Commissioner of Police at INEC and Police headquarters respectively in Ibadan, Oyo state capital to intimate both agencies
the resolve of the youths in joining the campaign against political violence before, during and after that the election.
The document jointly signed by Rachael Arowolo, State Coordinator, Vote Not Fight campaign,, Sola Fagorusi for Onelife Initiative for Human Development, Innocent Ujah Idibia (Aka 2Baba Idibia), Founder, 2Baba Foundation and Ambassador, Vote Not Fight campaign and Kingsley Bangwell, Executive Director, Youngstars Foundation.
The Vote Not Fight: Election No Be War is a non-partisan and youth-focused voter education campaign that has been promoting constructive youth participation in Nigeria’s political and electoral processes since the 2015 general elections.
The campaign seeks to increase youth voter turnout and mobilize against hate speech, electoral violence and vote buying.
The groups disclosed that the Nigeria’s youth constitute more than 60 per cent of the country’s population (NPC, 2006) and also represent 51.1 per cent of voters (42,938,458) in the coming general election (INEC, 2019), but have regrettably remained marginalized and underrepresented in decision making.
They maintain that over the years, the sponsors of electoral violence have used the youth to perpetrate violence and disrupt the electoral process.
And to address the concerns stated above, The Vote Not Fight campaign have engaged the different categories of youth (educated youths, uneducated youths, potentially violent youths, politically active youths, students, female and male youths, youth with disabilities etc.) in the this regard.
The campaign also engaged, political and religious leaders, including the presidential candidates of leading political parties etc.
According to them, “Today, we have come to say no to electoral violence. We hereby state our firm resolve to shun violence in the February 16 and March 2, 2019 general elections in Nigeria.
“For us, non-violent and peaceful general elections in 2019 are non-negotiable. We remind all the political parties that the legitimacy of any government lies on its emergence from a peaceful, free, fair and credible election.
“We are here today because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is responsible for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
“We have come to ask that the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to function independently, free from external control and influence.
“The 2019 general elections offer another opportunity for Nigerian youths to decide their representatives at various levels of governance. In this election, we want peace because it is about our future. Nigerian youth under the auspices of the #VoteNotFight campaign therefore make the following demands from the INEC:
Displaying openness and transparency in all your activities and in its relationship with all stakeholders.
“Discipline any staff found to have betrayed public trust during the 2019 general election. Exhibit patriotism by ensuring the sanctity of the ballot box. Any wrong move can affect all of us.
“Sincere in handling election results at all levels, returning and declaring the right candidates or winners of the elections by respecting people’s choices. Ensuring adequate distribution and timely arrival of electoral materials at various polling units across the country.
Work closely with the Nigeria Police to ensure a rapid response to distress calls by voters, election officials and election observers”.
Also at the Police headquarters, the groups while submitted the document stated that, “We are here today because the Nigerian Police Force is responsible for safeguarding lives and properties and protecting the ballot in elections.
“We believe that election violence will be eradicated or reduced to barest minimum if the Police is at its best in securing INEC’s adhoc staff, voters, candidates, observers and other stakeholders.
“We have come to ask that the leadership of the Nigerian Police Force and its officer do its best to promote peaceful participation before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
“In this election, we want peace because it is about our future. Nigerian youth under the auspices of the #VoteNotFight campaign therefore make the following demands from the Nigerian Police Force: Promptly arrest and prosecute all electoral offenders including political actors and elected officials without immunity
“Providing adequate security during the voting process and do not allow ballot boxes and other election materials to be hijacked by interested members of the public. Train your officers to be civil and allow every voter to exercise its constitutional rights without any form of intimidation or restriction during the election and work closely INEC to ensure a rapid response to distress calls by voters, election officials and election observers”.
Both INEC and Police leadership promised to work diligently according to the tenets of their profession as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in conducting hitch free elections on February 16 and March 2, 2019.