By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
The Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, IDFP and other stakeholders have lamented the setbacks capable of hindering a peaceful, credible and transparent elections in Nigeria come 2023.
The Co-Chairman IDFP, Alhaji Sanni Kunle (Muslim), delivering a communique issued at the end of a Two-Day Sensitization and Capacity Strengthening Workshop for Religious Leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Policymakers in Abuja on Thursday, said the workshop focused on six key themes:
“Violent conflict landmines and peace landmarks in 2023 general election in Nigeria; peaceful conduct of the elections; the role of security agencies; voting procedures, electoral offences and penalties; gender/inclusivity and citizens’ participation in electoral processes; perspectives of civil society on the current electoral processes and action planning and development of next step.”
According to Kunle, burning issues were raised bothering on divisive political campaigns characterised by hate speeches, negative profiling of religious and ethnic groups and rise in fake news, disunity and tension; inadequate voter education on awareness and knowledge of the Electoral Act 2022, inadequate knowledge of the use of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) by voters and INEC Adhoc Staff as well as the efficacy of the BVAS in areas of low network coverage.
He further lamented that according to Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), there are over 17 million Nigerians in Diaspora who contributed over 20 billion to Nigeria’s economy in 2021 above foreign direct investment but without voting rights. Also raise, were issues of electoral offences; snatching of ballot boxes, attacks on INEC and underage voting as well as vote buying and selling.
The communique therefore prayed thus: “the unwavering commitment of all stakeholders in the electoral process including citizens to ensure peaceful, credible and transparent elections.
“Call for effective collaboration among all critical stakeholders before, during and after elections with regard to planning, deployments, voter education, monitoring and information sharing.
“Reduce incidences of electoral violence through full implementation of the electoral act; we recommend that future electoral acts should be modified to consider giving Nigerians in the Diaspora the right to vote; appeal to INEC to ensure every Nigerian who duly registered to vote receives his/her voter’s cards in his/her respective polling units before the elections;
“We call on INEC to conduct adequate training on the use of the BVAS by their personnel including providing adequate internet facility to ensure uninterrupted connection to the server. Additionally, provide prompt alternatives to faulty BVAS where necessary.”
The communique was jointly signed by Alhaji Kunle, Co-Chairman IDFP (Christian) Bishop Sunday Onuoha; president of National Council of Muslim Organisations (NACOMYO), Sani Suleiman and National Chairman of Youth Wing, Christian Association of Nigeria ( YOWICAN), Amb Enwere Belusochuckwu. The workshop was attended by several stakeholders from INEC, KAICIID, Nigerian Police Force, CAN among others.