INEC Identifies Godfatherism, Ethnic Sentiments, Misinformation as Bane of Election Violence in Nigeria

*Warns that elections should not be conceived as war
Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Ahead of the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Ekiti and Osun States and next year’s general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned politicians to bear in mind that elections should not be conceived as war.

The Commission also identified ethnic sentiments, godfatherism and misinformation as the basic cause of electoral violence in Nigeria.

These were disclosed by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who was represented by Prof.  Abdullahi Abduzuru, at the methodology workshop for the deployment of Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool (EVMAT). In his opening address, the INEC chairman blamed politicians for more often conceiving elections as going to war or a do or die affair, which he said should not be case.

He said the mind set of many political players in Nigeria was that they often make preparations for elections as if they were preparing for war. He warned that INEC as an election management body finds this totally unacceptable and refused to be dragged along this thinking.

The INEC Chairman further stressed the importance of EVMAT which he said was used in identifying and mapping possible areas of electoral violence which could occur before, during or after election period and proffer effective preventive measures to immunise the electoral process.

He drew the attention of the participants to the fact that every electoral process has its peculiarity, adding that the INEC chairman had identified some factors known to be triggers of electoral violence

According to Yakubu, “manipulation of tribal and ethnic sentiment, misinformation of the media and God-fatherism are some of the basic factors that influence violence during elections.
He urged field agents to keep in mind that EVMAT was about saving lives, safeguarding the electoral process and delivery of free, fair and credible peaceful and inclusive election.

In his welcome address, the Director General of The Electoral Institute (TEI), Dr.  Sa’ad Umar Idris, said the EVMAT which is the brain-child of TEI, was designed by the Commission to provide information on the potential hot spots and flash points that would enable the Commission and security experts and stakeholders to synergise for the purpose of developing strategies to mitigate the occurrence of such violence.

The Director General also said INEC in recent past had deployed EVMAT in bid to test the pulse of various players as it did in the just concluded FCT Area Council Election, Anambra State Governorship election, Edo, and Ondo States Governorship elections.

He explained that the participants have been carefully selected to receive proper training before being deployed to the various local governments in the state to administer the instrument which he said would be analysed and coded.

The Resource person, Dr. Willie Eselebor, while taking the participants through the details of the EVMAT methodology and ethical issues, explained the importance of EVMAT as an apparatus used by the Commission to identify flash-point for violence, further stressed the need for developing strategies to mitigate the occurrence of such violence during the upcoming election.

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