By Josephine Agbonkhese
IT was a colourful gathering of both eminent and grassroots men, women and youths from both the South-Southern and South-East parts of the country, under the aegis of Southern-Eastern Peoples Development Foundation, SEPDF. This time however, unlike most ethnic gatherings, the preoccupation was politically oriented and the agenda was to influence Nigeria’s political landscape and ensure good governance, through the upcoming general elections.
“This campaign is pertinent because there are threats of impending violence. We are appealing to political parties and their candidates to embrace fairness in the upcoming general elections. We are very much convinced that only when politicians generally embrace the concept of fair contest will Nigeria be able to achieve a transparent, free and fair elections.
“Already, we have begun meeting with representatives of different political parties, socio-political groups, candidates and interest groups, to have them sign-up to our fair contest banner,” Barr Obuesi Philips, co-convener, Fair Contest 2015, said at the event in Lagos.
Another member of the campaign team, Mr.Uzoigwe Kenneth, enjoined Nigerians to uphold fairness in the elections by not only voting but also protecting their votes.
Mr.Uzoma Silas, also a co-convener, urged youths to avoid making themselves tools for perpetrating violence in the hands of ill-will politicians.
Uzoma noted also that the Fair Contest Campaign team had begun engaging grassroots leaders, parents and institutions to effectively drive home its message. True to its mission, the team has since the launch of the campaign increasingly had political candidates and groups sign up to its Fair Contest 2015 Campaign. This includes top All Progressives Congress-APC House of Representatives member cum candidate, Hon.Femi Gbajamiala, and Peoples Democratic Party-PDP Senatorial candidate, Dr. Ade Dosunmu, amongst others.
Over the years, SEPDF has remained vociferous in discussing innovative ideas for achieving credible elections in Nigeria. It would be recalled that in 2007, the group was involved in projects aimed at stimulating demand for improved transparency in the conduct of elections. In 2011 also, it successfully advocated for a social contract between the candidates of political parties and the electorates as a tool for deepening democracy.