By Smith Nwokocha
COMMUNITY INITIATIVE FOR ENHANCED PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT (CIEPD) IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FOUNDATION FOR PARTNERSHIP IN THE NIGER DELTA (PIND) Organizes a MULTI STAKEHOLDERS FORUM ON PEACEFUL ELECTIONS. At Grand Tokyu Hotel, Stadium Road, Port Harcourt. Wednesday 8th March, 2023.
The forum started at about 4:00pm, introduction of Dignitaries. Remark from the security agencies present, starting with a Goodwill message from Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Rivers State Command-DCC Dike; he said, Safety and Protection of lives is the mandate of the Security Personnel, to ensure a violent free election. The Assistant Commissioner of Police (Mamman Joseph) representing the Commissioner of Police Rivers State. He emphasized that, Rivers State was violence free compared to other states, during the Presidential Election. He advised that, Electorates should talk to their friends and families at home, to be calm. Ensure, you cast your vote peacefully.
Nathaniel Akpos (State Coordinator, Transition Monitoring Group): Supports CIEPD in ensuring peaceful and non-violent Election in the fourth coming Gubernatorial Election. Stakeholders present spoke on Peaceful and Non-violent Election. They all agreed; “We are one accord”.
Comrade Enefa Georgewill (Chairman, Rivers State Civil Society Organization), he emphasized that there is need to sign a Peaceful Accord for Non-violent Election.
PIND Rep: The central objective of Peace Programme is to achieve peace across the region through peace Actors efforts. If Election emerging conflicts are not managed, it could escalate, so with the participation of Community Influencers, it has been helpful.
The Moderator, reiterate that “Whatever we must do to avoid violence, we have to do”.
CIEPD Programme Manager, he said, CIEPD focus is on Peace building and conflict resolution. CIEPD introduced “Conflict Watch Centres”. Since 2015 to present, CIEPD have been able to track elections (three circles of election) in Nigeria. On Saturday, 25th February, 2023, CIEPD in collaboration with PIND deployed 23 Community Stakeholders Network members and 149 Conflict Trackers to monitor the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in 8 LGAs of Rivers State that are high risk electoral violence areas. Their specific roles are to monitor and report conflict indicators and triggers to the CIEPD Situation Room which immediately report to relevant stakeholders for prompt intervention and resolution. The Situation Room was opened on the 24th of February,2023 at 4:00pm. Personnel in the Situation Room includes the following: Egondu Ezinwoke-Ogbalor (Lead), Everest Nwankwo, Courage Nsirimovu, Anthony Abeh and Olorunsola Testimony.
The All Progressive Congress APC House of Assembly Candidate (Prof. Chuku); In his words, he said; this is the worse election filled with fraud. Though, he is an APC faithful, but Labour Party won the Election in his LGA, but at the end of the day, it was massively rigged at the Collation Centre. He emphasized, until people’s voice and choice is respected and counted, there is nothing like Free and Fair Election. If the people in Government want to get power by all means, then, there’sa big problem.
Egondu Ezinwoke-Ogbalor (CIEPD), appreciates the Rep of the APC for honouring the invitation to be present. She equally said, after the Gubernatorial Election and State House of Assembly Elections, there will be a debriefing exercise. The Peace Accord document will be signed by all Candidates, however she read through the document to the hearing of everyone. She used the opportunity to celebrate women and mark International Women’s Day.
Closing, she thanked everyone for coming. The forum ended at about pass 6:00pm and refreshment where served.