Participants in a stakeholders’ peace and conflict dialogue for North-East and North-Central Nigeria on Wednesday urged Nigerians to prevent a repeat of the 2011 post-election violence, which claimed many lives.
They stated this during a Stakeholders Dialogue for North-East/North-Central Nigeria, organised by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolutions (IPCR), held in Makurdi, Benue State.
The Dialogue was organised by IPCR in conjunction with the United Nations’ Development Programme’s Democratic Governance for Development Project.
Participants were drawn from political parties, road transport unions, women and youth groups, traditional and religious leaders, media and Civil Society Organisations.
Prof. Oshita Oshita, ICPR Director-General, in his speech, said that every Nigerian has a role to play in ensuring non-violence polls and prevent a repeat of the 2011 post-election violence.
He disclosed that over 800 Nigerians, including 11 NYSC members died during the 2011 post-election violence, which necessitated holding the dialogue to prevent a recurrence in 2015.
Oshita said: “as the elections draw nearer, palpable fears about violence already exist, which may compromise the possibility of free, fair and credible elections. This dialogue, therefore, should be an opportunity for stakeholders to commit to upholding the principles of democratic practice.
“It is imperative for us all, as stakeholders, to prevent violent conflicts before, during and after the conduct of the 2015 general elections. It is also to sensitise and increase public knowledge and awareness on the dangers of election violence.’’
Alhaji Umaru Kurama, the District Head of Dukku, Gombe State, said that the traditional institution had no choice of candidate as it would always support every government in power.
Kurama, therefore, called on all Nigerians to eschew political violence in their domains for peace and tranquility to reign in the country during and after the elections.
Also speaking, Bishop Nathan Inyom of the Anglican Diocese of Makurdi, observed with regrets that the 2011 post-election violence had been a source of concern nationally and internationally.
He urged Nigerians to be wary of politicians who always like to use youths to perpetrate election violence and said people must note that such politicians do not use their own children for such acts.
“Nigerians must realise that politicians only use us to kill ourselves for them to gain power while their families are abroad enjoying themselves.
“We must remember that such politicians never use their own children to perpetrate election violence,’’ he said.