By Olatunde ajayi
An NGO, SOS Children’s Village, has urged traditional leaders and religious bodies to use their platforms to ensure free, fair and inclusive elections in Oyo state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the call was made at the community forum on peaceful and non-violent elections organised by the NGO on Tuesday in Ibadan.
Mr Ayodeji Adelopo, Regional Programme Manager, South, SOS Children’s Villages Nigeria, said that the forum seeks to bring critical stakeholders in election process together to scale down the message of peaceful and non-violent elections to the people at the grassroots.
Adelopo added that the focal areas for the programme were Ibadan North and Akinyele Local Government Areas in Oyo state.
“Election is a civic duty and not a warfare. When elections are largely peaceful, post-election violence, rancour and discontent are greatly reduced. Hence, lives, livelihoods and properties are protected.
“Credible leaders emerge through peaceful and fair elections. Expectedly, credible leaders will work for the welfare and development of the society,” Adelopo noted.
Also speaking, Mrs Catherine Ogwu, the Gender Desk Officer, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Oyo state, urged parents to talk to their children on the need not to engage in election violence during the forthcoming polls.
“With the new technology from INEC, snatching of ballots boxes, buying of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and other elections irregularities will be efforts in vain,” Ogwu said.
Ogwu said that Oyo INEC still have over 900,000 uncollected PVCs and called on all eligible voters to collect their PVCs so as to choose credible leaders for the country.
She noted that INEC recognised the role of women in election process which led to the creation of gender desk in the commission.
Ogwu encouraged women to participate fully in the elections.
Commenting, the Chief Imam, Ibadan North LGA, Mr Salawu Olayiwola, said that traditional and religious leaders must make good use of social and religious structures available at their disposal to ensure that their followers abide by electoral laws.
Also speaking, Mrs Olufunmilayo Soyege, the representative of the Ibadan traditional council, said that the rate of pre-election violence in the state had reduced compared to previous elections due to the synergy between INEC and other stakeholders in election process.
“We want more cooperation of parents, security agencies, traditional leaders and religious bodies before, during and after the general elections. This election is critical to the future of our children and this nation at large,” she said.
NAN reports that the forum featured key presentations from security agencies and other critical stakeholders in election process. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma