Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mr Mohamed Ibn Chambas has called on politicians to avoid hate speech and politics of acrimony that may undermine peaceful conduct of election, social and national cohesion.
The envoy made the call on Tuesday in Ilorin in an address delivered at the high level dialogue on peaceful election in Kwara.
The dialogue was jointly organised by the UN and National Peace Committee headed by the former President Abdulsalami Abubakar.
“I hope that all of us will work together to ensure that Kwara upholds its status as the “State of Harmony” by making sure harmony reigns throughout the election period.
“I will like to reiterate UN’s resolve to support initiatives at both the state and federal levels, in alignment with regional efforts aimed at promoting peaceful election and democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
“We are convinced that with the support of all of you, the state, and indeed Nigeria, will deliver credible, transparent, free, inclusive and peaceful 2019 election, and Nigeria will emerge the winner,” the envoy added.
Chambas commended the organisers of the dialogue, adding that the UN would continue to support the National Peace Committee (NPC) to sensitise and promote confidence building among stakeholders involved in the electoral process in Nigeria.
According to him, the goal of the dialogue is to mobilise stakeholders towards peaceful election, build on existing initiatives, and take measures to strengthen mutual confidence among stakeholders and political actors.
He appealed to politicians to proactively and peacefully resolve any election-related disputes with utmost regard to the rule of law and due process.
Chambas commended governorship candidates in the state for signing the peace accord in December 2018 in the presence of the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He commended all stakeholders in the election process in the state including INEC, the National Human Rights Commission, security agencies, civil society organisations, religious and traditional leaders, and the media, for their commitment to the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming election.
“Your presence here today is an affirmation of the resolve to continue to sensitise all involved and re-commit to the tenets of democracy, fair play, and to use peaceful means grounded in the rule of law to address any election-related complaints that might ensue.
“It is this democratic spirit that has motivated my engagements with political stakeholders throughout the electoral cycle,” the envoy said.
Chambas however expressed concern over the low numbers of women and youth contesting various positions in the state.
“I have also observed that the number of women and youth candidates fielded by political parties is far lower than expected of Nigeria with a large number of women voters and enthusiastic youths eager and willing to take part in nation’s building as responsible leaders.
“All hands should be on deck to improve upon this in future election,” the envoy added.