Purposed to provide citizens with an opportunity to choose freely their political leaders and allocate power peacefully, the National Directorate of contact and mobilisation of the professional council of All Progressive Congress (APC) held an awareness brief on the 24th of May 2022.
The cognition was necessitated due to underlying societal tensions and high-stake competition which can result in violent and fraudulent electoral processes in the country.
Organised by the DG, Aarebirin Hon. Princess Folashade Olabanji-Oba a seasoned technocrat, National Deputy Chairman (Association of Local government Vice Chairmen of Nigeria), and Executive Vice Chairman, Ikorodu LGA, the meet was aimed at galvanising APC professionals and presenting an overview of ways the initiative sought to promote peaceful polls in Nigeria come 2023 general elections.
From the juncture of Voters Registration, Voters having access to reliable information on electoral processes, Citizens being free to run for office, and Peoples’ ability to vote freely without any form of intimidation amongst other cogent factors in the electoral process, Aarebirin Princess Folashade-Oba urged her professional counterparts to take the awareness beyond every sphere in engaging the general public towards the oncoming presidential election.
Aarebirin Princess Folashade-Oba continued, “Previous experiences of elections in Nigeria have known various degrees of violence which have continued to put stains and black spots on our electoral process in the country. Elections are an important mechanism in democratic and peace processes“.
“Elections are the essence of democracy. They allow people to select their political leaders and then hold them accountable. But for elections to fulfil their critical function, especially in Nigeria, they must be free and fair. Just holding an election is not enough: if some citizens are prevented from voting or the results are not counted properly, an election can’t be called “free and fair“.
“A peaceful election/poll is one in which all the citizens of voting age can vote for the candidate of their own choice unhindered and not been influenced in any way, a fair election is one in which all votes have equal power and are accurately counted. There are standards that governments need to meet before, during, and after an election to ensure that an election is free and fair”.
“There is no doubt that in Nigeria citizens who are already 18 years of age and resides in the country are expected to register to vote. However, for an election to be free and fair, the government cannot prevent eligible voters from registering or make it more difficult for some groups of people in any part of the country to register”.
“Governments or any of its agencies should not prevent the media from covering certain candidates or political parties, and they also cannot intentionally spread misinformation”.
“Governments should not attack or intimidate people who decide to run for office or create discriminatory rules about who is allowed to run”.
“All voters should have access to a polling booth that is very close to their home. People need to be able to freely cast their ballots. Voters should be able to reach polling stations, enter them, and cast their votes regardless of whom they are or where they live”.
“Our polling centres should be safe. Violence, or the threat of violence, can make people feel afraid to vote for their candidate of choice or even prevent people from voting at all. Secret ballots can also help prevent coercion or intimidation since they help Prevent people from targeting voters based on whom they voted for”.
“Voting is free from electoral fraud Every eligible voter should be able to vote only one time, and ineligible voters should be prevented from voting”.
She further stated that “Ballots should be counted accurately and the correct results should be announced because Ballots cannot be altered or discarded after they are cast”.
Guests in attendance included; Hon Oladotun Olakole, Executive chairman Onigbongbo LCDA, and Hon Seyi Bamigbade, ably represented by Bar. Ajayi, Mrs Damilola Niran Ademuyiwa, Mrs Rita Ajetunobi, Director of Women affairs APC professional council, Comrade Abunola, Comrade Tunde Abdulrahaman, former treasurer TUC Nigeria, Comrade Akeem Adeniyi Kazeem, Mr Balogun Abiodun, director for monitoring APC professional council amongst others.