MAKURDI – Participants at a dialogue for peaceful 2015 elections on Tuesday urged the citizenry to take necessary actions to prevent the violence that characterised the 2011 elections.
The Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Prof. Oshita Oshita, said at the event in Makurdi that everybody had a role to play in ensuring non-violent polls.
Oshita said it was unfortunate that over 800 people, including 11 National Youth Service Corps members, lost their lives to the 2011 violence.
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“As the elections draw near, palpable fears about violence already exist, which may compromise the possibility of free, fair and credible elections.
“This dialogue, therefore, should be an opportunity for stakeholders to commit to upholding the principles of democratic practice.
“It is imperative for us all, as stakeholders, to prevent violent conflicts before, during and after the conduct of the 2015 general elections.
“It is also to sensitise and increase public knowledge and awareness on the dangers of election violence,” he said.
The Special Adviser to Gombe State Governor on Peace and Conflict Resolution, Mrs Hannatu Ibrahim, said there could be no development in the atmosphere of violence.
Ibrahim, therefore, appealed to the populace to embrace peace, saying when government is distracted by violent activities the people suffer.
She said stakeholders in Gombe were doing everything possible to sensitise the citizens on the need to remain peaceful and to shun violence.
Alhaji Umaru Kurama, District Head of Dukku in Gombe State, in his contribution, called on traditional rulers to be non-partisan.
Kurama called on authorities to ensure that dividends of democracy got to grassroots.
He said the third-tier of the government had remained non-functional since 1999 and called on the relevant institutions of government to reverse the trend to check cases of violence.
In his remarks, the Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Makurdi, Bishop Nathan Inyom, cautioned against politicians who instigate violence while their own children were abroad.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the dialogue was organised by IPCR in conjunction with the Democratic Governance for Development project of the UN Development Programme.
It is being attended by representatives of political parties, road transport unions, women and youth groups, traditional and religious leaders, media professionals and civil society organisations. (NAN)