From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
The Kaduna State Peace Commission in collaboration with the National Peace Committee (NPC) with support from the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) on Thursday engaged traditional rulers, religious leaders and chairmen of political parties in Kaduna State on deepening stakeholder participation and peaceful 2023 general elections in Kaduna State.
In an address at the one-day event held at a hotel in Kaduna, Executive Vice Chairman, Kaduna State Peace Commission, Saleh B. Momale warned political parties, candidates and their supporters including youths against acts of aggression and hate speeches in all forms.
He also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to set in place mechanisms for effectively dealing with the campaign and election misconduct following the dictate of the law.
He further called on the traditional and religious leaders to continue to admonish and caution candidates, political parties and the youths to ensure peaceful conduct at all times.
Deputy Special Representative of the UNOWAS, Ms Giovanie Biha, remarked that the presence of the high-level traditional, religious and political parties leader at the one-day event held at a hotel illustrated collective resolve to enhance sustainable peace, security, and development in Kaduna State and Nigeria in general.
To her, the event was timely as it comes 85 days from the start of the elections as it provide the stakeholder with the opportunity to amplify their commitment to peace and agree on more practical ways of addressing threats that may undermine a peaceful electoral process in Kaduna State.
“We are confident that stakeholders in Kaduna State will once again rise to the occasion and deliver peaceful 2023 general elections which is crucial for sustainable peace, security, and development of this State”, she said.
Chairman of NPC and Former Head of State, Abdulsalam Abubakar who was represented at the high-level engagement by the Head of Secretariat, Father Atta Bakindo reiterated the commitment of the committee towards peaceful conduct of elections in 2023.
According to him, “we are open and ready to collaborate with Kaduna State Peace Commission, political parties and their candidates in peace business to deepen democratic process here in Kaduna and the country at large.
“For example, we did that during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. We repeated the same in 2019.
“We will be going to several states like we are doing here today to call for peace especially to remind the politicians of the need to deepen democracy”, he said.
On his part, the Emir of Zazzau, Amb Ahmed Nuhu Bamali said, “we want peace before, during and after these elections and that is why we need to be watchful of signs of crisis.
“We don’t want to revisit the ugly past. We must leave as brothers and sisters. We are to be mindful of who we associate with, be careful of what we say, write or do that can trigger a crisis. We have to respect one another’s religion and ethnicity.
“INEC, judiciary and security must play the game with the rule of the game which is the rule of law and ensure we have adequate security during these elections”, he added.
The State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai whose message was delivered by his Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan reminded the gathering of the commitment of his administration to ensure a peaceful Kaduna State.
“Kaduna State was among the most peaceful states during the conduct of the 2019 general elections. So, I’m quite optimistic that the story will be the same for the 2023 elections”, he said.
He however promised to implement ‘suitable’ recommendations that would emanate from the meeting at the end of the deliberation.
“I look forward to the outcome of the deliberations today. The Kaduna State government stands ready to partner with you in implementing suitable recommendations towards credible and peaceful elections”, he committed.