The European Union (EU) has stressed the need for politicians and political parties to embark on issues-based campaigns.
The EU urged all stakeholders to take a firm stance against violence and hate speech in order to create atmosphere for a peaceful, free, fair and credible elections.
The EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuella Isopi, gave the advise at the programme launch of the EU-Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Programme.
Isopi noted the importance of a credible elections saying that “Nigeria has the responsibility to lead and inspire other democracies on the continent with the elections drawing close.”
“Six months ahead of the 2023 general elections, Nigeria is at a pivotal moment in the process.
“As the largest democracy in Africa, elections in Nigeria matter. They matter to Nigeria and Nigerians, they also matter for Africa as their outcome will be watched and felt well beyond its borders. Nigeria has the responsibility to lead and inspire other democracies on the continent, ” she said.
The Ambassador stressed that who wins the elections is for the Nigerian people to decide, adding that a peaceful vote casting will contribute to strengthen the nation’s democracy and good governance.
She further called on all to support and respect the fundamental and independent role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it fulfils its constitutional mandate, stressing thatbthe empire must be allowed to operate free from outside pressure, and in turn must demonstrate full neutrality and professionalism.
“INEC, but also political actors, civil society groups, media, security agencies that will need to act with neutrality and professionalism to provide a safe and secure environment, citizens and voters and also partners, in providing critical technical assistance and support,” she said.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman of INEC Prof. Mahmood YAkubu, lauded the closure of the Phase I and simultaneous launch of Phase II of the EU-SDGN Programme, saying this further affirms the enduring commitment and support of the European Union towards the strengthening of democratic institutions and the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
Yakubu assured that the Commission will continue to work with the EU, development partners and all electoral stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of electoral reforms in order to protect the integrity and guarantee the credibility of election outcomes based on the rule of law and the will of the electorate.
Earlier during a panel discussion tagged: “The challenges and opportunities for a credible 2023 general election in Nigeria” former INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega, maintained that having a credible elections in 2023 is the sole responsibility of all stakeholders, stressing however the need for politicians and political parties to respect due process and legal frameworks, desist from money politics and upscale their integrity during the elections.
Also in the panel, Head of Secretariat at the National Peace Commission Rev. Fr. Atta Barkindo, urged Nigerians to vote wisely and with conscience, while warning against what he termed “the injection of intellectual gunmen into governance”.
Meanwhile, the Head of Programmes at YIAGA Africa, Ms. Cynthia Mbamalu, urged the INEC to ensure that political parties comply to laws guiding elections as well as the functionality of use of electronic technology during the elections in order to encourage youth participation.