Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, youths from Chukun Local Government Council of Kaduna state have given their expressed support and willingness to ensure a credible and violence free elections in their various communities.
The youths, who were gathered in their large numbers under the auspices of the Hope for the Village Child Foundation, in conjunction with Action Aid Nigeria, had representatives of the two major religious bodies in Nigeria; CAN and JNI in attendance, gave their assurances to the organizers that they will take the messages and information gathered, back to their respective communities in preparation for the forthcoming elections across the country.
Speaking with the media, George Benson, Project Coordinator of the “Youths Say Yes to Credible and Violence Free Elections 2019” disclosed that elections in Nigeria had always been a do-or-die affair which, from available records, post-elections violence has always been a pronounced issue in Kaduna, especially in Kaduna state, with a good example of the 2011 elections”.
“We as youths, have seen the damage it has caused; division in the society, damage to properties and businesses. So, as youths, we saw that those actively involved in pre and post election violence, are mostly youths and this formed our decision to bring in these youths together from different backgrounds and brainstorm together on how best to address the situation before us”, the Project Coordinator revealed.
“This election is not about war but a coming together of us all to strive and ensure that our dear country is well placed in the comity of nations, globally”, Benson stated.
Tasked on available facts in the public domain that most of these talk shops end up as mere talks without actions by the elites, George Benson disclosed that there is a lot of difference between what they are doing with what had been attained in the past.
According to him, “we started this campaign right from the communities with community mobilization, through to sensitization of different groups which resulted in the coming together of these people to discuss the effect of elections in our society”.
“This event is not a tea-party as some have come to realize. Action Aid and Hope for the Village Child Foundation are practical in their programmes and projects which is why you or anybody around will know that participants have come from the various communities to attend this programme as a result of a well undertaken community mobilization. The people here represent various youths groups from different communities and different strata of society; the poor, downtrodden and the rich”, Benson stressed.
“We adopted special steps in bringing together, these youths who are advocates and representatives of their people and we expect that they will go back with the right message to their communities”.
Benson, while responding to questions on the possibility of adherents of both religions residing together in peace, unity and love, noted that representatives of political parties are hopeful of an exchange in gestures by both Christians and Muslims which would see the erection of places of worship in various communities in the state without fear or molestation.
“Since this suggestion is coming from the political class, we expect that if such political party wins the election, he/she would push for the successful implementation”.
“It is high we first of all see ourselves, not as politicians but as humans and citizens of the world, living freely, wherever we chose to live; born and created by one God”. This is our focus here and we hope and pray that by the time they depart to their respective communities, they will take this message home. We are one”, Benson stated.
“People become sentimental in the process of socialization and, it is now left for us as youths who are thinking of our tomorrow, to water down these sentiments and water down the re-decalization processes of these youths. A lot of people have been radicalized on grounds of religion and political affiliations and this is not good. Let us begin to look at the Nigeria of our dreams and water down these sentiments that are taking us steps back”.
“It is primary that we begin to educate ourselves especially those who have been enlightened here, to take the message home to their people and make them understand that sentiment is not supposed to be a part of us”, he concluded.
Speaking also, Pastor Philemon Sambo, Zonal Chairman of CAN, Maraban Rido, representing Chukun Local Government, CAN noted that most of those used in perpetrating violence during electioneering campaigns were youths.
“With what happened today, it is a very beautiful initiative by the organizers of this event to ensure that violence and corruption is taken out of the youths and to bring about a peaceful election in Nigeria. The level of education in the society today is high and many want to see a peaceful election process; before and after the exercise itself. Education of the youths and also members of the society should be a continuous exercise by all stakeholders”.
On the role of religious leaders in the society to ensure a peaceful election, Pastor Philemon Sambo insisted that religious leaders should not be blamed for such breech as the political leaders would go to these youths to use them in causing trouble. By the time religious get to know the position of things, a lot of havoc have already been done.
“We are doing our best to give the right teachings as clerics so that everybody can live in peace and walk in peace so that the youths will not indulge in violence or be used by anyone for anyone’s interest”, he stated.
“In the Church, we teach our children to embrace peace and our hands are open to all”, he said.
Haliru Abubakar, a participant at the event, commended the Hope for the Village Child Foundation for the initiative in organizing the programme describing it as timely and well thought out.
Haliru Abubakar said it was time youths all over begin to shun the gestures and overtures by the political elites in using them to perpetrate election violence, thuggery, ballot box snatching and other activities associated with electoral crimes.
He appealed to his fellow youths across the state to shun electoral violence as demonstrated by the facilitators of the programme with the wonderful theme; Youths Say Yes to Credible and Violence Free Elections.
Divisional Police Officer, Sabo Division, Dimkpah Ikeh who was also at the event, commended the organizers for such initiatives which will help to checkmate youths involvement in electioneering crimes.
According to the senior police officer, “our duty is to ensure peace and unity. We are also to protect and provide security as directed by the Inspector general of Police to all, before, during and after elections”.
“We are always neutral as our roles as police officers are well defined and we have our own mechanisms in curtailing criminality at all times”, he said.
Ikeh assured the gathering that his colleagues at other Commands are prepared to provide quality policing for all irrespectively as their doors are always open.