The International Republican Institute (IRI), has called for sustained efforts to ensure credible, transparent and violence-free elections in Ebonyi in the 2019 general elections.
IRI sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), made the appeal in Abakaliki at a workshop on Consensus Building on Election Violence Mitigation (CBEVM).
The workshop was attended by media practitioners, representatives of registered political parties, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations.
In a paper entitled, “Scenario Planning on Election Violence Mitigation,” delivered by Prof. Sadeeque Abubakar, he identified election violence as any act likely to cause a breach which can affect the credibility and outcome of an election.
Abubakar said that the aim of the workshop was to come up with a workable action plan to eradicate or reduce election violence especially in Ebonyi.
Abubakar, a Professor of Political Science in the University of Abuja, explained that election violence has become a recurring decimal in Nigeria, adding that the nation’s democracy has become violence-driven.
“Our democracy has become violence- driven, Nigeria’s election is generally perceived to be a do-or-die affair.
“When you talk of election in Nigeria, the first thing that will come to the mind of an average Nigerian is, is the election going to be free and fair? Is it going to be credible? And is it going to be violence- free?
“Election violence has become a recurring decimal which has been promoted within our electoral and democratic lexicons.
“There is no way you can analyse elections and democracy in Nigeria without venturing into discussing how violence can determine outcome of an election or its negative tendencies before, during or after the elections,” Abubakar said.
He listed some of the causes of election violence to include- greed for the struggle for the control of state resources, hate speeches by politicians and their supporters, divisiveness along religious, ethnic and tribal lines, among others.
The don also identified weak institutions, abuse of electoral and other extant laws, wrong use of power of incumbency, clannishness, as other causes of election violence in Nigeria.
He noted that election violence has contributed to voter apathy, insisting that many eligible voters often avoid participating in the electoral process due to doubts of the credibility of the outcome of elections in Nigeria.
“According to statistics released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), only less than 25 million voters out of the over 64 million registered voters voted in the 2015 general elections.”
He added that election violence often raises legitimacy problem for leaders who emerged through violence ridden election process.
Abubakar urged political parties, politicians and other critical political actors to play by the rules to avoid situations that could promote election violence in the 2019 general elections in Ebonyi.
Recall that Adamawa, Bauchi and Sokoto are the other states benefitting from the IRI sponsored programme.