Ahead of governorship and state Assembly elections, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), cautioned Nigerians against electoral violence for the stability and peace in the country.
Director-General, NOA, Dr Garba Abari, stated this in Abuja, while speaking at the breakfast meeting with journalist on the aftermath of 2023 general election, organized by NOA and the Alert International with the support of United Kingdom Conflict Security and Stability Fund (CSSF).
He said: “One of the big challenges of our country is in managing post-election situation. In our country, we still close schools, and restrict movement on election day just to ensure that citizens do not run into the violence associated with election. Our history is replete with the story of violence since we chose to practice democracy as a way of selecting leadership in our country.
“Today, the challenge facing us is how to sustain the peace and stability in the country. It is at times like this that patriots, elder statesmen and women, men and women of goodwill who put country over self must rise up to be counted.
“Reasonable voices should be counted on the side of moderation, and temperate conversation. We must all be sensitive and circumspect in the things that we say, write or show on our screens. I call on the major stakeholders in the political events that are unfolding to rein-in their key supporters,” he said
Abari said that in any election, one candidate must emerge as the winner.
He added, “It is not unusual that some will feel dissatisfied after any election. This is so because, in the case of electoral contest for the position of President, only one candidate can win at a time. Our current situation where more than one political party is claiming victory holds ominous signs for the polity if not delicately managed.
“It is in view of this and our mandate for building national cohesion that I am hosting this breakfast meeting with you media Heads, to enlist your support for moderation and conflict sensitivity reportage of the unfolding events after the declaration of a winner at the Presidential elections. Let our conversation be temperate, conflict sensitive and moderate, so that followers of various political parties are not incited to violence.
“I have a special appeal to the media. You have a role to play now. Do not magnify the political narratives that divide our country and our people. Democracy is about the contest of ideas and was never meant to produce violent outcomes. Let us all work towards the peace that we so desire for us and generations yet unborn.
“As we approach the next set of elections this weekend, it is important that our people continue to conduct themselves in a peaceful and orderly manner as we continue to work together towards a violence free and credible elections.”
In his remarks, the Country Director, Nigeria International Alert, explains that their aims is on building stability, dousing and de-escalation tensions among groups.
He said “At International Alert, we are a core peace-building organisation, focused on building stability and ensuring that wherever there are tensions or disagreement between groups, we do all that we can to come in between to see how different groups can come together towards de-escalation.
“We work very closely with other Civil Society Groups, we have seen most of the reports that have come out, but the focus for us is how key stakeholders can open a conversation that will help us to chart forward towards building stability, de-escalation of whatever tension and all together see how we can join our hands together towards peace.”