By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
A non governmental organization, Christian Aid in collaboration with African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), with support from START Network on Thursday organized a town hall meeting on how to mitigate violence during the upcoming governorship and State Assembly elections in Kaduna State.
The essence of the meeting according to the organizers was to ensure that no the governorship election is peaceful even more than the presidential election adjudged to be peaceful.
They therefore urged all stakeholders in Kaduna to maintain the tempo of peace witnessed during and after the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Kaduna state.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Programme Officer, Gender and Governance, Christian Aid, Mrs Mercy Onyeama said the aim of the meeting is to ‘Mitigating violence during the electoral process in Kaduna state.
According to her, “poverty happens in different ways. During elections, if violence erupts and you burn someone’s property, you have sent the person back to poverty.
“We noticed that one thing that leads to poverty is violence. When there is crisis and the bread winner is killed, it could also lead to poverty.
“Unfortunately, those affected by post election crisis are mostly ordinary citizens, not the politicians.
‘When houses were burnt, and property were destroyed due to violence that will definitely lead to poverty”, she said.
She explained that the meeting was to seek an end to electoral violence before, during or after the election.
In his remarks, the Chairman of JNI, Kachia Branch, Rabiu Suleiman said the presidential polls was held peacefully.
According to him, he said prior to the election, JNI embarked on peace campaign aiming at sensitizing youth on need to embrace peace.
“The results were announced, winners emerged without rancour.
“We are also happy that those that rejoiced about the success of their candidates did it peacefully. There was no crisis with our Christian brothers”, he said.
He enjoined same peaceful polls and celebrations after the gubernatorial polls.
While speaking, CAN Chairman Kachia LGA, Reverend Chom Isa Dan said that the body had enlighten their followers that churches are not political parties.
“We allow our members to choose parties of their choice”, he said.
Lauding the efforts of Christian Aid, SEMA representative, Mubarak Zakari said before we became Muslims or Christians, we were first human beings, adding that no one could decide that on his own, except God.
“The 2011post election violence started by rumour mongers, who spread fake information around to people. I hope this year, we are all lovers here not haters, as such, this gathering today, I am happy to have key stakeholders here for smooth election, before and after”, the SEMA representative said.
The Deputy Director, Planning Research, Statistics of National Orientation Agency, NOA, Rhoda Wupada, emphasized on the need for peaceful coexistence amongst the diverse, saying that Peace is vital for every meaningful development.
“Without peace, we cannot even be here. Even after elections, peace should continue in our day to say life.
“In NOA, we sensitized people on the need for peace. We identified several factors used for violence. The major tools used are the youth.
“Before election, people don’t campaign based on issues, there are always hate speeches. Before elections, we observed that people go about destroying campaign materials. We also realized politicians tell people lies.
“Another issue responsible is votes buying. Telling people or forcing them to vote a particular candidate leads to violence”, she said.