Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel, Ambassador Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has called on politicians to avoid hate messages and the politics of acrimony that may undermine peaceful conduct of elections, as well associal and national cohesion.
The envoy made the call yesterday in Ilorin in an address delivered at the high- level dialogue on peaceful elections in Kwara State.
The dialogue was jointly organised by the UN and National Peace Committee headed by the former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
According to him,“I hope that all of us will work together to ensure that Kwara upholds its status as the “State of Harmony” by making sure harmony reigns throughout this elections period”.
He said that, “I would like to reiterate UN’s resolve to support initiatives at both the state and federal levels, in alignment with regional efforts aimed at promoting peaceful elections and democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
“We are convinced that with the support of all of you, Kwara State, and indeed Nigeria, will deliver credible, transparent, free, inclusive and peaceful 2019 elections, and Nigeria will emerge the winner .”
Chambas commended the organisers of the high-level dialogue, adding that the UN would continue to support the National Peace Committee (NPC) to sensitise and promote confidence building amongst stakeholders involved in the electoral process in Nigeria.
According to him, the goal of the dialogue was to mobilise stakeholders towards peaceful elections, build on existing initiatives, and take measures to strengthen mutual confidence among stakeholders and political actors.
He appealed to politicians to proactively and peacefully resolve any election-related disputes with utmost regard to the rule of law and due process.
Chambas commended all governorship candidates in the state for signing the peace accord in December 2018 in the presence of the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He commended all stakeholders in the election process in the state like INEC, the National Human Rights Commission, members of the security services, civil society organisations, religious and traditional leaders, and the media, for their commitment to the peaceful conduct of the 2019 federal and state elections.
“Your presence here today is an affirmation of the resolve to continue to sensitise all involved and re-commit to the tenets of democracy, fair play, and to use peaceful means grounded in the rule of law to address any election-related complaints that might ensue.
“It is this democratic spirit that has motivated my engagements with political stakeholders throughout the electoral cycle,” the envoy said.
Chambas, however, expressed concern over the low numbers of women and youth contesting various positions in the state.
“I have also observed the numbers of women and youth candidates fielded by political parties is far lower than expected of Nigeria with a large number of women voters and enthusiastic youths eager and willing to take part in nation building as responsible leaders.
“All hands should be on deck to improve upon this in future elections,” the envoy added