As Nigerians brace up for the 2023 General Elections, over fifty stakeholders, comprising mostly of youth leaders, government functionaries, security chiefs, members of the electoral body, religious institutions, and scholars, on Wednesday, converged on De Ist Crown Luxury Hotel, Lafia, to brainstorm on modalities to have a peaceful, credible and acceptable exercise in Nasarawa State.
According to the convener and Senior Special Assistant to Governor Abdullahi Sule on Youth Development, Rt. Hon. Shuaibu Sani, the rationale behind the one-day youth stakeholders’ engagement was to properly and adequately orientate Youth in Nasarawa State on their roles towards a violence-free polls.
He said participants were carefully selected from different Youth Organizations and critical stakeholders who would further step-down the knowledge acquired from the Programme to their subjects and target audience.
Shuaibu Sani noted that after every election, life continues, hence the need to shape constructive, objective and productive narrative before, during and after the 2023 General Elections.
The Governor’s Aide added that youth and women are major stakeholders during elections and determinants of who governs any society, disclosing that they are equally soft targets by desperate politicians who would go to any length to use them to foment violence and destabilize the process for their selfish gains.
In his address, Nasarawa State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development and Chairman of the occasion, Amb. Lucky Isaac Yargwa, commended organizer of the interactive programme for his foresight at a critical period like the State and country at large are experiencing now.
He said for there to be a free, fair and credible election, there must be a transparent process, including involving the key players.
Yargwa re-emphasized the need to engage in politics without bitterness which has been the daily message of his principal and Governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule.
He appealed to politicians and their followers to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and support whoever emerges at the end of the election for the general good of the society.
The Commissioner urged participants to leverage on the importance of the one-day seminar and pass the message across to their peers and intended recipients.
On his part, Resident Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission, Dr. Uthman Ajidagba, said he was overwhelmed by what he saw, describing the engagement as a welcome initiative.
He said he placed so much value on the stakeholders’ engagement meeting that he had to override other pressing programmes.
Ajidagba explained that until there was a total change of mindset, orientation and imported cultures, it would be difficult for Nigerians to get things right and the desired results.
He said youth are very critical to any society, and any society that underrates their importance would be doing so at its own peril.
The Resident INEC Commissioner revealed that INEC as an umpire, had put every necessary modality in place to ensure a free, fair and credible process before, during and after the General Elections in 2023.
He revealed that some of the body’s major challenges come from organizations or individuals assigned to work with it during the process, pleading on them to give adequate and timely support to INEC to give Nigerians a seamless and rancour-free elections.
Ajidagba further disclosed that in its bid to conduct a peaceful and credible election, INEC had included some technological innovations to help speed up the process, curb electoral malpractice and boost the confidence of electorates.
Delivering the message of the Commissioner of Police, Nasarawa State Command, Maiyaki Baba, the Divisional Police Officer in charge of ‘C’ Division, Lafia, Mbai Duwi, applauded the brainchild of the programme, saying it would not have come at a better time.
He said the youth have major roles to play to ensure a violence-free election in Nasarawa State and Nigeria as a whole.
DPO Duwi cautioned youth to resist any politician who would not use their children or wards to cause mayhem but turn to vulnerable individuals to achieve their wicked and nefarious acts.
He explained that no politician’s ambition should be worth the blood of any youth nor citizen, hence the need to reject the venom and allow the wishes of the people to prevail for the sake of peace.
He assured that the Police and other Security Agencies are prepared to ensure a peaceful process, security of lives and properties, adding that Security Agencies would not hesitate to clamp down on anyone found breaking the law, irrespective of their position in the society.
Prominent among the participants at the interactive session were the SSA to Governor Abdullahi Sule on Sports Affairs, Comr. Hamza Ibrahim Moyi; State Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, Comr. Ja’afar Loko; Speaker, Youth Assembly of Nigeria, Nasarawa State Chapter, Rt. Hon. Ovye Waki; National President, Northern Young Women In Politics And Leadership Initiative, Hon. Maryam Gajere Muhammad; Chairman, ABU Zaria Alumni Association, Nasarawa State, Engr. Mohammed Sidi Sani; Chairman, Social Media Influencers, Nasarawa State, Comr. Aliyu Ibrahim Orah; Zonal Heads of Nigeria Youth Parliament, Nasarawa State; Representatives of Kwararafa Youth Association, YOWICAN, NASSA, JNI Youth Wing, and NANS JCC.