By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
With the opportunity of creating interface between candidates and the electorate ahead of the 2023 General elections, democracy in Nigeria is advancing.
The Partnership for Issues-Based Campaign’s, Yusuf Ishaku Goje expressed this at a one-day dialogue with governorship candidates to deliberate on citizens’ groups agenda and candidates’ blueprint towards agreeing on developmental commitments in key sectors, held in Kaduna on Tuesday September 20, 2022.
“For the candidates to be here with us, it shows that our democracy is advancing.
“We will capture their agenda and what they will be doing if they emerge winners in 2023 to hold them accountable,” he said.
According to him, over 43 per cent of Kaduna citizens are living below the poverty line.
“So we say, what can we do ahead of the 2023 election to address this.
“645 people were killed in the second quota in the state by banditry and other violent crimes, which doubles the figures of 2021.
“We need to hear from our candidates, what are their pragmatic steps to address this,” he added.
According to Goje, the most important fact they need to look at is that the state’s population is fast growing and the next governor must tell them how they will address this.
“We are here to tell you that things are not the way they need to be. We need to get commitment that they will address this issue.
“Why are we setting this agenda, the 1999 constitution says that power belongs to the people. So it is important we engage them through the mandate of the constitution which gives us this mandate,” he said.
Goje said that it means that the electorate should tell the candidates what their welfare needs are, since it is important that the constitution empowers citizens to set mandate for candidates and demand accountability.
He said that in 2019, the state had over three million voters, while a huge chunk failed to collect their PVCs, which would have been able to swing the votes.
“From 2019 election, out of the two million that did not vote, we believe they are from the middle class, which this campaign is targeting. They may be students or civil servants, who might end up on election day, watching TV or twitting from their living rooms.
“If our assumption is right, one of the reasons they don’t go out to vote is because they feel election is dirty.
“But in 2023, with passage of electoral act, BVAS and others, their confidence has been boosted, coupled with the influence of the Social Media, there is possibility of changing dynamics.
“Considering the demography, young persons below 30 years in Kaduna State are more than 80 per cent of the population and they are worst hit by unemployment and other issues.
“One of the things this dialogue is set to achieve is that most of the things that affect the electorate are brought up and the candidates give commitment.
“We want to hold the candidates accountable for what they say before the election.
“Let’s remind the candidates that when they come to office they would be confronted with several issues and what would be their approach to addressing the issues.
“So that when you come and it is your 100 days in office, we will remind you of what you said, where you said it and even with pictorial evidence, the clothes you wore when you said it,” he declared.
The Partnership for Issues-Based Campaign in Nigeria (PICaN) supported by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL/FCDO) in collaboration with Legal Awareness for Nigeria Women (LANW) organized the agenda setting dialogue with governorship candidates to deliberate on citizens’ groups agenda and candidates’ blueprint.