By Zika Bobby
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), United for Zero Violence (UZV), in partnership with agents such like the Nigeria Police, Department of State Security (DSS) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agents (NDLEA) has launched a state-wide campaign against election violence in Anambra State.
The launch, which took place at a ceremony held at Banhill Hotel in Awka, Anambra State CapitaI, was attended by security agents and members of UZV. Among those in attendance were the founder and grand patron of UZV, Chief Emeka Ken Nwabueze, an engineer, Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Garba Buba Umar, State Director of the Department of State Service (DSS) Yusuf Isiaku and State Commander, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Mr Sule Momodu, among others.
In his welcome address, the grand patron, Chief Emeka Ken Nwabueze (Ajie Okpala Ogidi) said he was happy that the heads of the law enforcement agencies were present to witness the ceremony. He said the UZV would still host several town hall meetings in the state’s three Senatorial zones in collaboration with the police, DSS and NDLEA.
The Ogidi High Chief, who has served as Special Adviser on Science and Technology to former President George W. Bush in the United States, said the main agenda of the UZV was simply ‘Voter’s Education.’
“This is the most important duty each of us must embody for Anambra State to remain democratic and to achieve peaceful gubernatorial election in November 18,” he noted.
He said the only difference between how politics is played in Nigeria and in the United States is that there is better education on electioneering process in the United States than what is obtainable in Nigeria. According to him, there are no political thugs in the US because the people are educated enough to know that thugs have no roles to play during elections.
He added: “Election violence in any form – arson, assassination, thuggery, or ballot box snatching not only creates an environment of distrust for the winner and the winning political party by those who feel their mandate were snatched from them, but also destroys the fabrics of our communities and deters the progress of our society.
”Since education has been described as the most effective tool for eradication of the ills of a society, it is the agenda of the UZV and the duty of every person in Anambra State to use peer groups, town unions, schools, religious institutions, the civil society and others in educating our people, especially the youth not to engage in any form of electoral violence
He informed that UZV would despatch electoral educators to the grassroots with materials to educate voters, especially the youths, to shun violence and resist attempts by politicians to engage them in activities that may hinder the progress of Anambra State.
He noted that a violence-free election would enhance democracy and create hope for actualisation of a prosperous Anambra State where there would be no need for anyone to seek a green pasture elsewhere.
The state police boss, Garba Buba Umar said the event was quite timely. He expressed gratitude to Chief Nwabueze for initiative, noting that it was an opportunity for the youth to make a more meaningful impact on the progress of the state by shunning violence during the election
”The youths, as leaders of tomorrow are the catalyst to move a nation forward or draw a nation backward. This kind of platform offered by UZV is all what the youth need to be on right track and use their energy to move their nation and state forward.
”Don’t allow politicians to use you for crime, no matter the offer. Though the offer may be mouth-watering, it could land you in big trouble capable to ruin your career and your future and even your life entirely and your family would be ashamed of you. So, don’t allow anybody to use you to rig election or disrupt election process.
”Stay at home if you don’t have a voter card or if you don’t have any work to do at the polling unit. If you do the right thing, the security agents will not touch you. But if you join a gang of people who want to snatch ballot box or divert election materials, then get ready to face the wrath of the law.”
The State Commander of NDLEA, Mr Momodu also cautioned the youths against taking drugs and doing dirty jobs for politicians, asserting that politicians would only use and dump them eventually.
“They may lodge you in hotels, give you money and also give you drugs so that you can be intoxicated to act violently, but don’t accept such because that is a high way to destruction,” he said.
Momodu, who also commended the former United States Presidential Adviser and his executives for the anti-violence campaign initiative, called on the people to collaborate with the agency in the war against drugs by report drug peddlers and merchants to the NDLEA.
”We are here to serve you and it will work in the favour of our commitment to get the state rid off drug business and drug addicts if you collaborate with us,” the NDLEA boss stated.
Also speaking, the State DSS boss, Yusuf Isiaku advised the youths against being used for violent activities capable of attracting negative impact on themselves and on the state. “Anambra is highly sophisticated, considering the calibre of high profile personalities we have in the state. Anambra is not a banana state. In terms of business and education, Anambra ranks tall in this country and the youth should drive the state in a positive direction and avoid dragging it to the mud by making themselves a subject of violent activities,” he said.
The DSS boss observed that it was the youths that peddled the rumour that the Nigeria Army personnel were injecting children with killer vaccines and monkey pox in Anambra State. he also informed that it was the youths that said there would be no election in then state on November 18.
A female Labour leader at the event, Comrade Monica Okoro explained that election violence would always have youths as victims. She urged members of the UZV to take advantage of the platform to wage effective war against violence ahead of the November poll in Anambra State.
National Programme Director of the NGO, Udoji Amedu, a former Chairman of Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State assured that the body would collaborate with the security agencies and take the message of zero violence to all nooks and crannies of Anambra before the election. He said the group was a non-profit and humanitarian one.
Co founder of the group, Chief Chima Onwuzulike (Aku chukwu Ogidi), assured that the group would take the crusade to families and communities even beyond Anambra State.