Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna State has commended the ECOWAS Commission for its efforts towards ensuring peaceful elections in the country in 2019.
The governor spoke through Adamu Mansur, permanent secretary, Cabinet and Special Services, at the opening on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 of the ECOWAS-organised workshop for political actors and civil society groups in Nigeria’s North-West geo-political zone, on the use of dialogue and mediation as tools for preventing and mitigating election-related conflicts and disputes.
Mansur also reiterated the State government’s commitment to using dialogue and mediation in resolving disputes and conflicts.
In her remarks, Pricilla Ankut, the executive chair and chief executive officer, Kaduna State Peace Commissions, said: ‘‘What we desire is peaceful conduct of elections and use of peaceful and legal means to resolve election related disputes.’’
She described the ECOWAS as “a leader with long-standing record” of using dialogue and mediation processes in settling disputes across the region, adding that the State hoped to benefit from its vast experience and knowledge.
In a welcome address, Brown Odigie, the representative of the Directorate of Political Affairs of the ECOWAS Commission, said the training workshops planned for five of Nigeria’s six geo-political zones, were part of the ECOWAS’ strategic support and intervention in the upcoming general elections in the country.”
He outlined the objectives of the engagements, which include creating the opportunity for participants to appreciate the ECOWAS normative principles and frameworks for transparent and peaceful elections, and the organization’s commitment to using dialogue and mediation in resolving electoral disputes and conflicts.
Others are providing a forum for participants to brainstorm and identify contending issues around the forthcoming elections and the possible role they could play in mitigating potential electoral violence before, during and after the elections; and to sustain and enhance ECOWAS’ strategic engagement with the political process in Nigeria.
The Kaduna three-day workshop, facilitated by Willy Eselebor of the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, is also being attended by representatives of women and youth groups, inter-faith organizations and traditional leaders.
It is a follow-up to the ones already held in Enugu, Enugu State (South-East zone) early this month; in Benin City, capital of Edo State (South-South zone) last month; and in Jos, Plateau State (North-Central zone) in September. The last in the series is planned for South-West zone in Lagos from December 4-6, 2018.
The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the Abuja-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, IPCR, and the Swedish-based Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), lined up the Dialogue sessions to strengthen the capacity of key Nigerian peace actors and stakeholders in efforts at prevention and mitigation of potential pre- and post-election-related disputes and violence, so as to ensure peaceful electoral outcomes.
Also targeted for the workshops are representatives of governmental platforms involved in dialogue and mediation processes. The ECOWAS Dialogue and Mediation Handbook, is being used to facilitate the engagements, with participants expected to acquire practical techniques and skills for dialogue and mediation as important tools for the management of electoral conflicts through role-plays and simulation exercises, the organisers added.