Southwest Expresses Optimism On Free, Fair Conduct Of Elections

Stakeholders in the electoral process in the Southwest have expressed optimism that the forthcoming elections will be free, fair and credible, calling on everyone to play an active role to make the country better.

Speaking on the sidelines of a public function on Thursday, at the second day of the High-Level Stakeholders’ Dialogue on peaceful and violence free general elections in Nigeria ongoing in Akure, Ondo state, traditional council described United Nations Development Programmes, (UNDP) as a positive game changer on the issues of peaceful election in Nigeria.

The representative of the Southwest traditional council, the Alayemore of Ido-Osun, Oba Aderemi Adedapo, noted that UNDP has done well by setting a template for a peaceful free, Fair and credible election for the country.

He expressed optimism that the forthcoming election will be better following the discussions at the strategic meeting ahead of the elections on the need for everyone to play an active role in electioneering process to make the country better.

Oba Adedapo urged INEC to be transparent and accountable in the forthcoming elections, noting that the whole world is watching the country as the elections draw closer.

The royal father reminded INEC that whatever affect Nigeria, affects the continent and the world at large.

One of the guest lecturers, Dr Austin Onuoha, of the Africa centre for corporate responsibility, said that the country must criminalize electoral offences and that corrupt politicians should be banned from contesting election in Nigeria as stipulated by law.

“If you have stolen public money, you should not be participating in politics and no party must allow you to flag its banner.

“One of the major challenges facing the electoral processes in Nigeria is the failure of abiding by the rules and laws of the land, as well as breakdown of law and order, “Onuoha said.

He said that the country can get better if politicians abide by the party’s constitution and that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the electoral act.

On the issue of INEC being able to conduct credible elections, the expert said that INEC must work towards changing the perception of people, for them to have confidence in the commission and the process of election in the county.

Onuoha, however, advised whoever that wins the election to unite the country, while the people should not abandon the country if their choice candidate does not emerge.

Mr Emmanuel Mamman, Consultant to the UNDP, said Nigeria can get better if the people are well educated and equipped with adequate information.

He noted that Southwest is well positioned because of the level of education in the region, especially with the way issues are being handled from time to time.

Mamman therefore called for a functional educational system across the country, adding that an application and principle of democracy can make the country work and the electioneering system can get better.

The UNDP organised a 3-day stakeholders dialogue on peaceful and violent-free general elections in the Southwest zone of Nigeria, which commenced on Wednesday and expected to end on Friday.

The workshop is being attended by representatives of traditional rulers, security agencies, the media, Civil Society Organisations, National Council of Women Society, INEC, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, among others.

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