SING’s BAYELSA GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION UPDATE: VIOLENCE IS NOT AN OPTION

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SING Nigeria’s team, led by our head of mobilization and coordinator of volunteers department, has been on the ground carrying out series of engagements towards the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa state. Our team has been highly impressed by the high spirits of the people, gleaned from our town hall and other community engagements in the state.

Recent feelers however reveal an underlying fear of outbreak of violence among the people of the state. This is not unconnected to moves they have seen in and around their communities by politicians, as it has been expressed by even the electoral umpire INEC, on stockpile of arms by some politicians.

It has to be stated that INEC alone cannot deliver a credible electoral system if all the other stakeholders in the system do not play their part in making the work of INEC less complicated.

We need not remind all and sundry about the imperatives of a free, fair, peaceful and credible election in the state. The major stakeholders already know that a credible election is a panacea to a developed society we all publicly mouth our desire to have. No doubt a credible election is the key to having leaders who are accountable to the people and work to better the lot of the masses.

We are therefore using this opportunity to publicly make the call we have made to many of the stakeholders we have met so far, and those we are still going to meet in the build up to the election as well as those we may not be able to meet; that the election must be free fair and credible, and that it is the commitment of all and sundry that will make this happen. We urge the INEC to continue its operational policy of transparency and stakeholder engagement as we work towards having a more fool proof electoral system.

The government must assure the citizens of their safety to encourage them to participate in the election, towards ensuring that the will of the people is reflected in the outcome of this process. The government still has enough time to implement our painstaking report on violence during the last election, to serve as deterrent for the future electoral violence. We urge the citizens, even as we have done in our engagements with various representative groups, to continue work towards violence free elections, and not allow themselves to be used as tools in the hands of unscrupulous interests.

SING will continue to work in collaboration with other well-meaning players in the system, to strengthen the electoral process in Nigeria. We will make our Bayelsa election situation room, which opens in a few days, accessible to the members of the public, while opening channels of communication with the security agencies to take care of major flashpoints in the state to prevent escalation of tensions into conflict.

Signed,

Idris-Etanami Usman
Executive Director, SING

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