A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), “Pageant and Events Development Initiatives has partnered with the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC to sensitise youths on the dangers of electoral violence and other vices.
The training is one of the NGO’s activities to deepen peaceful elections across the Niger Delta region and the workshop had earlier been held in other states of the region, particularly, Imo, Akwa-Ibom, and Delta States.
Speaking as a keynote at the workshop in Rivers State A former Public Relation Officer (PRO), of the state branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Otitoji Ayofeji enjoined youths to allow for a transparent, free and fair electoral process in the March 18, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in the state.
He spoke on the theme, “dangers of electoral violence and other vices”, noting that vote buying, or monetary inducements in elections was a form of money laundering, electoral fraud that aimed at influencing the outcome of the process, and engineering violence.
Ayodeji said that the youths were vulnerable groups to corrupt politicians to perpetrate crimes in elections and there was a need for them to desist from such acts because of their dire consequences to humanity, and society at large.
The former NBA PRO stated that Nigeria’s electoral process has been characterised by intimidation, violence and coercion and urged the youths to allow for a transparent process in Saturday elections.
He described electoral violence “as a deliberate use of power and force to achieve unmerited political goals, this is one of the tools used by political elites to influence the outcome of elections.
“It is characterised by both physical and psychological acts aimed at injuring and intimidating the populace.” the Lecturer said.
He observed that no country can succeed in its democratic process without the youth population saying that there was a need for the government to empower the youths with economic skills to engage them from ready tools by politicians to cause infractions in elections.
“The relevant role of the youths is now being used by selfish politicians to create violence during elections thereby distorting the electoral process. This has to be discouraged through enlightenment and positive actions.
“The government has the role to ensure economic empowerment of the youths through training and skills acquisition to protect them from political exploitation by the politicians”.
He highlighted some of the consequences of electoral violence, including, loss of lives, disregard for rule of law, destruction of the nation’s economic growth, lack of trust in the democratic process, and undermining of the political and civil rights of the populace, among others.
Also speaking, Commander, Desk Officer on Anti-human Trafficking Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), state command, Yemi Faboyo-Agbede, urged the participants not to allow themselves to be deceived by political gladiators to destroy thieves and their communities, for their interests.
Agbede who is a Deputy Superintendent of the Corps noted that “politics is a form of a game of interest, and that in the game, it is said that, there is no permanent enemy or permanent friend, but permanent interest.”
Explaining it to the youths she said, “politicians will always come to some form of agreement with their opponents after elections are won and lost, so there’s no need for the youths to make enemies among themselves and kill one another because of politicians that will later reconcile their temporary rivalries after the elections.”
In his opening remarks, the representative of the host NGO, Robinson Akpu lauded the orderliness exhibited by the youths during the registration process and encouraged them to replicate the same energy in elections.
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