Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
No fewer than 200 Persons Living with Disabilities will be deployed as election observers in the November, 16 Kogi State Governorship Election.
The Deputy Country Director, National Democratic institute (NDI), Mr Raymond Esebagbon, stated this on Wednesday when the Challenge Parenthood Initiative paid the Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Mrs Folashade Arike Ayoade, an advocacy visit on the need to stop violence against women during the election and to ensure more women participation in the polls.
Mr Esebagbon in his remarks noted that this will be accomplished in collaboration with other NGOs which include the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Inclusive Friends Associate (IFA), Challenge Parenthood Initiative (CPI), and Center for Democracy, USAID and Development (CDD).
The Country Director while noting that his organisation has over the years continued to support good governance in the country, stressed that the injection of people with disabilities into the election process will promote inclusiveness in the system.
Mr Esebagbon maintained that one of the goals of the organisation is to ensure that more women and youths participate in politics just as he emphasised that the NGO is committed to support issues based campaigns and combat fake news before, during and after the polls.
According to him, as part of efforts to drive home this campaign towards achieving a violence-free election in the state, veteran musician 2Face will be in the state next week to ssensitise the electorates on the need for a safe election.
According to him, seven states – Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Adamawa, Lagos, Anambra and Enugu – have keyed into the campaign to stop violence against women in election.
Mr Esebagbon who commended the Kogi State Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello for appointing more women in his cabinet since the state was created 28 years ago said the campaign will not yield fruit if the government failed to throw in their support.
He listed health, education, job creation, public and civil service reform, infrastructural development as some of the primary areas that the government should look into if it must succeed in the state.
In her response, the Secretary to the State Government Mrs Ayoade, describing the state as a confluence of opportunities, noted that the present administration is determined to leave a legacy that will not be forgotten in the country.
She reminded her visitors that the present administration inherited ghost workers who have been milking the state of its funds.
“We inherited a government where some politicians put their six-year-old children on the pay rolls. We have cases of people that came with fake certificates, falsification of age, study leave for more than seven years. In the first four years, the Governor was not ready to play politics,” she said.
“The Governor is mindful of what will not cause violence in the state. He is the youngest governor, and he will always kick against it. He so much believes in women. In the history of government in the last 28 years, this is a government that has most women in government. The SSG, Head of Service, Director General of Land and Housing, Public Procurement, and among all 229 ward assistants in Kogi State, are women.”
According to her, since the Yahaya Bello government officially took off on 27th January, 2016, the Governor had always kicked against violence in the state.
The Kogi State Government appointee, however, expressed worry regarding negative comments by opposition parties that have the potential to incite violence in the state.
Mrs Ayoade added that it takes a desperate politicians to instigate violence in the state, saying that Governor Bello is not a desperate politician but rather someone who is ready to serve the people with transparency, accountability and good governance.
The SSG said women and children are more vulnerable in cases of violence as she enjoined electorates to always implore peace during and after the polls.
“On our own side, we are not training thugs but we are training voters who will use their PVCs. They know when the pendulum is swinging to. Members of the BOT’s of the PDP are joining hands with the Governor for his reelection. We already know that we are winning this election, so there is no need for a do-or-die affair. We are not ready for any form of violence on the side of the APC, and we are not ready to condone any form of violence,” she added.
Earlier in her remarks, the Executive Director, Challenge Parenthood Initiative (CPI), Ms Eunice Ambimbola said the organisation has trained 63 local government observers on violence against women during the coming election.