AHEAD of the 2023 elections, Ahmadiyya Muslim youths in Ondo State under the aegis of Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Nigeria have kicked off a voter education and sensitisation campaign against thuggery, ballot box snatching, rigging as well as vote buying and vote selling.
The youths, who converged on the state capital, Akure, carried banners bearing various inscriptions warning against electoral malpractice.
The national president of the group, Abdur Roqib Akinyemi, while speaking on the theme ‘Attaining Peaceful Election’, said Nigerian youths, as important stakeholders in the quest to develop Nigeria, must be actively involved in the coming elections.
Akinyemi, who was represented by the Assistant General Secretary, Abdurrofeeq Alaka, said: “Today’s event is an annual programme that started in 2016. We choose topics that centre on peace each year to sensitise youths and the general public to the need to live peacefully, to encourage peaceful coexistence.
“As you know, the 2023 elections are around the corner. We set out today to sensitise our people on the need to make sure that we carry out the electoral processes peacefully and shun every act that could lead to social unrest.
“We have seen in previous years, situations where ballot boxes were snatched and people were killed or maimed in the name of election.
“We are also worried by the rate of vote buying in recent elections. When people sell their votes, they are actually selling their voices. So, whatever comes as a result of that vote buying, they will also have a taste of that.
“So, it is part of what we are doing to sensitise our people to exercise their civic right wholeheartedly, sincerely without being influenced monetarily.
“The theme was chosen as the 2023 general election is fast approaching. Elections in Nigeria became increasingly marred by violence and intimidation at both the federal and state levels.
“There are records of problems such as thuggery, ballot box snatching, rigging, and vote-buying which affect the integrity of elections and the peace of the country.”
The state president of the association, Mr Shittu Yusuf, explained that the group is dominated by men aged 15 to 40, adding that the group was holding the awareness across 25 states of the federation and it chose to use sport which is largely loved by Nigerian youths to promote the exercise at every nook and cranny of the country.
Yusuf encouraged young people to embrace bicycle riding which, according to him, is a means of physical exercise that is popular in Western countries and safe for the environment.