By James Sowole in Akure
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Wednesday said free, fair and credible election is crucial to the attainment of Sustaining Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda.
The UNDP Resident Representative, Ms Khadiata Lo Ndiaye, stated this in Akure, Ondo State in a welcome address at the opening ceremony of the High Level Stakeholders’ Dialogue on Peaceful 2019 General Election.
The event, which was held at the Ondo State International Event Centre, The Dome, had in attendance government representatives, political parties’ representatives, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, market women, security agencies, religious organisations and the media.
The stakeholders’ dialogue had representatives from the South-west states of Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun and Ekiti States.
According to Ndiaye, a free, fair and credible election would promote peaceful coexistence, help build strong institutions and foster sustainable development.
“This is in tandem with the sixteenth goal of the SDGs which seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive elections at all levels.
“Attainment of the sixteenth goal will have significant positive impact on achievement of all other goals and the accomplishment of 2030 Agenda,” she said.
Ndiaye said the UNDP in 2018 organised two similar workshops for media practitioners and high level stakeholders in Osun State and the neighbouring states.
She added that the 2018 initiative was key in shaping the voting landscape during the gubernatorial elections in the state.
Ndiaye therefore said the Akure dialogue was building on the success recorded by the 2018 event and seeks to ensure that everyone in the region is equipped with the knowledge and awareness levels required to promote peace and stability and more importantly to be able to cultivate and deepen the culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
The UNDP, he said, would continue to count on the stakeholders’ support to deepen democratic governance and promote peace and stability, not only in the region but in Nigeria.
In a goodwill message, the Osun State Governor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, said for the summit to achieve its purpose and for the nation to witness peace, all critical stakeholders must resolve to say never to political process that has persistently hobbled the nation’s development.
Oyetola, who was represented by the Supervisor for Budget and Planning, Mr Olalekan Yinusa, noted that every flawed election puts our democracy at risk, rob the people of their much desired right to the good life and cast the nation in bad light.
Other stakeholders also stressed the need for all participants in the electoral process to play the game according to the rule.