EU Trains Electoral Stakeholders on Prevention, Mitigation of Conflicts, Violence

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EU Trains Electoral Stakeholders on Prevention, Mitigation of Conflicts, Violence

By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

As part of its support for democratic governance in Nigeria, the European Union (EU) has organised training for electoral stakeholders on the prevention and mitigation of conflicts and violence associated with elections, urging them to, as leaders, explore dialogue-based decision making throughout the electoral cycle.

Addressing the stakeholders Tuesday during the opening ceremony of the training for Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FOSIECON) held at Silk Suites, Jos, the Project Director of the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Mr. David Le Notre, said: “The objectives of the training are to strengthen the leadership capacities of electoral stakeholders, increase the level of confidence and self-awareness of electoral stakeholders and provide electoral stakeholders with the necessary tools to enhance dialogue development and dialogue-based decision making throughout the electoral cycle.”

He said that it was expected that the training would strengthen the long term capacities of participants to effectively deal with election-related conflicts and its triggers.

He added that: “The workshop is being conducted within the context of component one of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN), which aims to contribute to the reinforcement of democracy in Nigeria through building strong, effective and legitimate democratic institutions.

“It will be implemented from 2017 to 2021, accompanying the 2016-2019 electoral cycle, and is anchored on the priorities of the Nigerian government and the recommendations of the European Union Election Observation Mission on the 2015 general election. In addition to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), component-one of EUSDGN seeks to enhance institutional capacity of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) in collaboration with FOSIECON.”

Also speaking, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said the occasion was one of the steps in implementing the financing agreement for the project which was signed on June 5, 2017, adding that the training programme would contribute to strengthening democratic institutions and the electoral process in Nigeria to ensure fair and credible elections.

Udoma, who was represented by a director in the ministry, Olukayode Adeniran, said it was expected to contribute to the participation a cross section of the people, women, youth and the marginalised groups.

He said: “This training also seeks to support the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FOISECON) in order to build their capacity to conduct free and credible elections at the local government level and how well-implemented electoral process can bring about peaceful change of power and improve their leadership skills and take on board means for preventing and or mitigating the escalation of electoral violence and conflict throughout the respective electoral cycle.”

In his remarks, Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong noted that pre and post electoral violence in the world has a way of eroding confidence in government, adding that strengthening democratic governance must therefore begin with a credible, free, fair and acceptable electoral process.

Besides, Lalong, who was represented by his deputy, Professor Sonni Tyoden, argued that the concept of good democratic principles must be seen in the electoral process if the quality of democratic representation is to be enhanced in the country.

He commended the initiative of the EU and all its democratic governance support structures in identifying and setting in place a training agenda that will help strengthen the electoral process and the democratic governance structure across all tiers of electoral representation in Nigeria.

Lalong said: “Looking at the schedule of training activities which outlines various topical issues for discourse touching on leadership in electoral process, electoral circles and fragilities, external sources of electoral conflicts, and the place of social identity, emotional intelligence and team work in the conduct of election; I have no doubt in my mind that the objective of the training will be achieved.

“May I also say, I am particularly elated that this training session will avail the opportunity of experience sharing amongst states in the conduct of local government elections in Nigeria. It stands to reason that those states that have engendered confidence in the electoral process, one election after another, will avail the benefit of their experience to others who are yet to conduct same.”