Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe
Political Stakeholders in Gombe State have signed a peace accord forkç peaceful conduct of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections on Saturday, March 9, 2019.
The event organised by General Abdulsalami Abubakar led National Peace Committee hosted religious and traditional rulers, security agencies, political parties, electoral commission and civil societies committed to ensuring the peaceful conduct of the elections.
Speaking at the event in Gombe, the Head of Secretariat of the National Peace Committee, Reverend father Atta Barkindo said the National Peace Committee was working hard to build a culture of peace that comes with every election.
“For those that are real politicians, I want to leave you with these words, as someone once said a typical Nigerian politician thinks of the next election, a statesman, thinks of the next generation’. We are looking for politicians, who will not only think of the next election, but will also think of the next generation,” Father Barkindo said.
Reverend father Barkindo said he was in Gombe to facilite peaceful elections by ensuring that every Nigerian is given the opportunity to elect those that would rule them and to also pave way for a peaceful transition after the election.
Every Nigerian is given the opportunity to elect those that would rule them.
There was an observation that the real victims of election violence were the youths from poor backgrounds, who were usually given stipends and made to commit atrocities, while the children of thepoliticians stay off public eye.
Consequently, discussions centred on how the youths would be better enlightened to shun acts of violence and pursue quality education, so as to become useful and tools for development.
The stakeholders were women, religious and traditional rulers, civil society and relevant government agencies and they all agreed that the youths, who are often exploited and manipulated during elections, should be targeted for sensitisation on the need for peace and security for development.
Everyone of the speakers said parents, religious leaders and security agencies should focus on educating the youths not to their birthright by allowing politicians to use them as tools for destruction.
The Head of the Secretariat of the National Peace Committee, Reverend Father Atta Barkindo pleaded with the youths to resist being used as tools for violence by politicians.
“It is particularly important for young people, young people who hold the future of this country it is so important for you young people. The country is yours, the future is yours, you must work so hard to ensure that we have peace in this election. So, do not allow yourselves to be manipulated, to be exploited, to be used and dumped. If you go to other countries, the countries are developed because people have peace. Nobody should give you five thousand naira for you to go and fight and give up your life and the person’s family and children are overseas enjoying their lives,” Reverend Father Barkindo said.
The Chairman of the Representative of the Interparty Advisory Council, Alhaji Mohammed Garba, called on traditional and religious leaders to preach peace, as the base for any meaningful development.
The Police Commissioner, Mr. Bello Makwashi, who was represented by Deputy Superintendant of Police Haruna Garba, pledged that the police would go round and keep trouble makers in abeyance within the period of the elections.
“I want to seize this opportunity to warn all the trouble makers to steer clear, because we are going to be very decisive with whoever wants to disrupt the process. The electorates, the voters will be properly secured to ensure that the election is conducted peacefully without any fear of intimidation,” DSP Garba said.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, represented by the State Director of Administration Abacha Bukar Dikwa reassured the public of its neutrality and the pledge to provide the level playing ground for everyone to vote.
“Let me assure, re-assure that INEC remains far in its commitment, determination in providing level playing round for all candidates of the parties. We are committed to conducting free, fair and credible election and that we will do it collectively,” said Mr. Dikwa.
Stakeholders took turns in pleading with the public to consider the fact that elections would come and go while Gombe state remain,encouraging all to work add to ensure that the elections were conducted and ended in peace.
The stakeholders unanimously agreed that the real actors in election violence were the youths, who are in street corners under the influence of drug, hence, there was need to target them and keep them off elections, so that the process would be peaceful.