Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria is making an ongoing effort to help reduce election violence across the country in a series of community-driven peacebuilding programs. On January 28, 2023, GPF Nigeria hosted the “Students and Youth Leaders Dialogue Against Electoral Violence” forum in the Lapai Local Government Area of Niger State.
The program engaged young leaders, students, and the general public in a conversation on how to stand against electoral violence and ensure a peaceful process during the upcoming elections. Rev. John Joseph Hayab, Country Director for GPF Nigeria, urged young people to fortify themselves against groups that would recruit them to disrupt peaceful elections. He reminded them that electoral violence could put into question the credibility of the elections and the legitimacy of the winner, making it more difficult for citizens to hold leaders accountable.
The Emir of Lapai was represented at the event by the Kangiwan Lapai, Alhaji Abdulkadir Sule Lapai. He commended GPF Nigeria for bringing awareness to the important campaign and pledged the support of the traditional. He was specific in warning youth against the use of drugs, which according to him is one of the main catalysts to all forms of violence.
The leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Lapai Local Government, Rev. Davis Adewuyi, supported the message of peace and encouraged youth to see each other as brothers and sisters saying, “Your future is very bright and more important than whatever anyone can give you today to cause mayhem and unleash violence before, during and after elections.
The Lapai Divisional Police Headquarters was represented at the event by A.S.P Simon Moses. He advised caution before, during, and after the 2023 election. He spoke to the young crowd telling them not to allow themselves to be used by selfish politicians to act against the law. Lapai Divisional Officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, CSC Suleiman Hassan, added his voice to the conversation stating, “Violence is a respecter of no man. If you indulge in it, know that it will consume you.”
Hon. Umar Muhammed Kuchi, a candidate for the State House of Assembly in the upcoming elections, asserted, “Violence should be shunned before, during, and after elections, and those found by the law to be promoters of violence should be behind bars irrespective of their positions.” Even as he appreciated the efforts of the organizers, he called for a broader dialogue that would engage candidates. He hopes politicians from all parties will sign a peace accord.
Professor Naomi John Dadi-Mamud, the Director of the Center for Gender Affairs at IBB University, encouraged youth to be diligent in their studies. She views education as a powerful “tool of liberation from the crutches of political gladiators.” She also charged those who don’t receive a formal education to engage in vocational activities and trading for economic empowerment, which lowers or prevents participation in violence and crime.
Youth at the event participated in a group exercise to brainstorm and present various causes of electoral violence and offer possible solutions to them. This was followed by presentations given by various youth leaders, all of which centered on the role of youth in promoting and ensuring violence-free elections.
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