2023 Polls: Police, INEC, TMG, CSOs strategize for free, fair, peaceful elections

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By Ann Azuka

As the 2023 General Elections in the country draw nearer, the Nigeria Police Force(NPF), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and the Foundation for Human and Environmental Rights Protection, on has organized a stakeholders Summit towards achieving a free, fair and credible elections in Delta State.

Participants at the Summit include the representatives of the various registered political parties in the state, Security Agencies, Civil Society Organisations, religious leaders, youths, women and the media.

Speaking at the One-Day Stakeholders Security Summit On Pre-Election Sensitization held at the INEC headquarters in Asaba, the INEC State Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC), Pastor Monday Udoh-Tom assured the stakeholders that the Commission was fully prepared for the successful 2023 general elections.

The REC, who was represented by the Head of Legal Services, INEC, Delta state, Barr. Angela Ebhodaghe, called on party leaders and candidates to adhere strictly to the rules, stating that with the deployment of technology, irregularities and violence would be significantly reduced.

He revealed that a total of 244,000 Permanent Voter’s Cards(PVCs) had yet to be collected by their owners in Delta state after the 2019 elections.

REC added that 69,000 PVCs were received between June and December 2021, while 2,000 transfer PVCs were received during the same period.

Also speaking, the State Commissioner of Police, CP Ari Mohammed Ali urged the stakeholders to adhere strictly to the provisions of the new Electoral Act and INEC guidelines before, during and after the elections.

Ali who noted that electioneering campaigns had commenced, as approved by INEC, urged candidates of political parties to base their campaigns on issues, rather than resort to campaign of calumny, character assassination and hate speech, which could promote bitterness and ranchor in the system.

He assured that the police, in collaboration and robust synergy with INEC and sister security agencies, would operate within the armbit of the law.

This, Police State boss warned political parties to desist from thuggery, violence and other misdemeanors during the campaigns and the elections proper.

The police boss emphasized that achieving free, fair and credible elections was a collective responsibility and enjoined the stakeholder to see that as a task that must be done in the overall interest of the country.

Presenting a paper entitled: “The Role Of Stakeholders Towards A Hitch free General Elections 2023, the Convener of the Summit, Pastor Edewor Egedegbe of Value Rebirth Advocate said the sensitization is to expose participants to the various roles of stakeholders towards a hitch free election in 2023, and enhance professionalism in election security and media coverage.

Egedegbe posited that the role of security agencies in elections Management is primarily to maintain law and order to enable the electoral management body -INEC conduct free, fair and credible elections.

However, he frowned that security agencies were sometimes accused of partisanship, partnership and outright support for some politicians and political parties.

He also argued that “sometimes, security men are used to intimidate both electorates and the opposition parties. In addition to the foregoing Instances of direct involvement of security forces, it has also been reported that the electorates feel intimidated by the presence of armed security forces and this sometimes account for the Low turnout of voters during elections.

“These challenges notwithstanding, the complex Insecurity in Nigeria and violence that tend to characterize the electioneering process demands that the role of security agencies in elections management should not be undermined. They Continue to play critical roles in providing security for election materials, electorates, Candidates, and the INEC officials”, Egedegbe opined.

He further recommended that political parties in their bid to campaign for their candidates must be mindful of the kind of languages they are used for campaign, and also educate those campaigning on their behalf for the parties’ candidate not to be provocative in their languages.

According to him, all over the world civil society organizations are at the center of promoting good democratic governance and ensuring a Human-centered development programmes.

“The Nigerian civil Society has profound roles to play in sustaining democracy in the country and by extension Africa. These CSOs roles are contained in what may be termed directional guide in curtailing electoral violence in Nigeria.

” The Continued existence of electoral violence in Nigeria is directly Linked to lack of adequate knowledge or familiarity with the basic principles of democracy mostly among the general Populace.

Egedegbe who is also the Leadership Development Consultant/CEO, Robbydee Global Security Ltd admonished all stakeholders to work together for a common goal of achieving credible elections in 2023.

He said Nigerians should aim at getting the elections right, making it imperative that all stakeholders must show genuine commitment, as anything to the contrary could further mortgage the future of the country.

Equally, he urged the media to report any news received objectively and without bias as that could help put voters on the right track when choosing candidates to vote for.

Some party leaders, who spoke on the occasion, urged the INEC to remain an unbiased umpire by ensuring a level playing ground for all contestants.

They stakeholders tasked the Police and other law enforcement agencies to be professional and apolitical in the discharge of their duties before and during the elections.

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