BEING A PRESS TEXT PRESENTED BY PHARM. JOHN EZEKIEL CHUN ( C.J ) ON THE EXCLUSION OF FOUR (4) LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE OCTOBER, 10 PLATEAU STATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS.
This press text intends to deepen our democratic process and widen the net of conversation with Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), Security Agencies, Government, Political actors and all relevant stakeholders about the need for citizen participation to enhance good governance and or civil cooperation.
This has become necessary as a reaction to the PLASIECs public/general communication on the rescheduled local government elections slated for 10th October, 2018 with four LGAs namely: B/Ladi, Riyom, Jos South and Jos North completely delegitimized to participate due to security concerns.
As a major stakeholder, I pray and wish for a better Nigerian society that would guarantee the free expression of choice by the Nigerian people through the ballot not just mere executive pronouncements that ushers in Transition Committee Chairmen who know no day nor twilight about alternative economic policy thrust that can leapfrog the locals from want to wealth thereby stagnating the peoples progress.
So, I opted to mobilize like minds and affected persons who have campaigned with dynamic manifestoes, spent their hard earned resources, energies and have gotten the mandate of their people at local primary levels to express our concerns and proffer cogent reasons why these LGAs should not be exempted from the exercise.
It is in this vain that I essentially write to;
Highlight formal and informal mechanisms to help prevent and address disputes and violent conflicts, misconceptions in the context of PLASIECs documentaries regarding the forthcoming LGA elections.
Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses and advantages of the Commission in allowing election to hold in all the 17 LGAs of Plateau.
More generally, identify the opportunities and scope for using citizen engagement as mechanism to addressing some of the systemic and recurrent causes of inconclusive elections and symbolically passing a caveat message of “woo betide thee” to adversaries of the state who are poised in stifling our democratic values.
Granted, elections have never gone easy everywhere in the world and our case can’t be an exception due to the heterogeneous setup of our societies but the capacity of governments and electoral Institutions have firmly defended the will of people and democracy.
Consequently, I urge Mr. Fabian Ntung Led PLASIEC, to stand on this path and not allow the Commission to be used as a political football and discredit its independence.
In this contemporary times and age, Citizens participation and a purpose driven government are cardinal precursors to having credible elections, all other ancillary factors are technically by the way.
Plateau state according to the state government, is experiencing relative peace in a large scale and the deliberate pockets of attacks in some sections of the enlisted LGAs is not sufficient enough to inform exclusion of some LGAs.
Therefore, the security reasons allusion prescribed by PLASIEC is not a conflict but an aggression and political annexation on the plateau natives particularly the affected LGAs, by killer herdsmen, occupying territories and installing fear on peaceful citizens and the government.
Hence, denying the victims of persistent violent conflicts a proper representation, expresses government’s inabilities to mow-in personnel to protect citizens in election matters will amount to “rewarding the perpetrators of evil doings‘‘ and on another hand ignorantly accomplishing the aggressors motives which is to make the enclaves ungovernable and institute proxy authorities. Government/PLASIEC needs to urgently nip this on the board by decisively dealing with culpable suspects and address this narrative.
More so, that people of these LGAs see this announcement as an affront to their collective and political existence, government is expected to allay their fears and nay the plots of anti-democratic forces who want to deny them participation.
Yes, Jos North can be singled out as a red spot due to its peculiarity over the years but the initiatives of the Peace-Building Agency has neutralized all confronting components, so elections can practically go on anywhere on the plateau.
In 2015, which was the most heated of times in the nation‘s general elections history, campaigns and elections took place in all states of the federation including Yobe and Borno states despite the unease and uncertainty and swept by rumour.
To my mind, in this plateau scenario, the ruling APC is merely afraid of losing elections in the excluded local government areas and wants time to improve her Chances and/or it’s a collusion ploy to politically manoeuvre to retain power.
For instance, with the renewed determination of the electorates to cast their votes peaceably, irrespective of party and outcome, must be encouraged to do so.
-PLASIEC should see reasons and readmit the excluded LGAs and allow for their full participation in the rescheduled October 10 election.
-PLASIEC should engage in relentless messaging at all political and community levels, ensure the commensurate deployment of security agents and civil society groups to guarantee an inclusive process. Initiate a peace accord, committing all relevant stakeholders to pledge for peaceful conduct.
-PLASIEC should also create a forum for dialogue and confidence building between the commission, political parties to allay the fears of citizens about suspicion of bias and collusion with the ruling party.
-I again urge PLASIEC not to renege on their mandate and integrity as this will create space for exchanging ideas/opinions and increasing transparency.
-The Security agencies should review their assessment on the black listed LGAs, fashion out alternative strategies and guarantee protection within these LGAs.
A united and peaceful plateau is possible.
Pharm. John Ezekiel Chun.
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