Political parties’ flagbearers especially presidential candidates and other political actors have been urged to avoid using provocative language and negative profiling before, during, and after the 2023 elections.
The Kaduna State Peace Commission dropped the advice on Thursday at a high-level meeting of political parties, candidates, and stakeholders for peaceful campaigns and elections in Kaduna State.
The theme of the meeting was “Building Consensus and Mobilising Collective Action for Peaceful 2023 General Elections in Kaduna State”.
The meeting was organized by the Kaduna State Peace Commission and the Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women and other key stakeholders.
It was supported by ActionAid Nigeria through the “We You Project” and the SARVE III Project as well as Christian Aid.
Speaking, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Saleh Momale said the history of elections in Nigeria’s democratic governments had been challenged by the use of provocative language, negative profiling, and the occasional use of violence.
He stated the challenges were part of the reasons for the repeated failures of previous democratic attempts in the country, resulting in the interference of the military in the affairs of political governance.
He, however, said that since 1999, the current democratic process was gaining sustained resilience in the management of political disputes, and the country gradually established a mature political culture.
“This is the result of the collective commitment of all political parties and candidates, especially in recent years, as well as the support received from various national and international organizations in supporting peaceful democratic processes,” he said.
Also, Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Chairman of the Commission, said the process of contests among aspirants within the same and different political parties was characterized by aggression and violent conduct, common throughout the
He noted that in the quest to limit people’s choices, many countries constrained democratic
space by adopting the monarchical system of leadership with life tenures for leaders and/or single political party democracy.
Idowu-Fearon, however, noted that in Nigeria and many countries in Africa, a multi-party system had been adopted.
He said this allowed pluralism which opened up opportunities for eligible citizens to aspire to leadership positions at all levels of governance.
He called for reflection, through Kaduna State, which was among the administrative entities in the country that had suffered from upheavals associated with politically induced violence.
He called on political actors and stakeholders to embrace the best democratic values by respecting the dignity of humans and eschewing provocation and hate speech.
Earlier, the Acting Governor of Kaduna state, Hajiya Hadiza Balarabe, said the gathering justified that the state was asserting its leadership position in the country.
She said the state was also demonstrating the unwavering commitment of its citizens towards a peaceful and harmonious coexistence.
She said the meeting had affirmed the collective resolve of the state’s political stakeholders to pursue their ambitions without recourse to provocation, intimidation, incitement and other negative tendencies that could lead to the disturbance of public peace and social order.
“All these initiatives are intended to create awareness, mobilize the citizenry and provide a level playing ground for peaceful campaigns and elections,” she said.
Balarabe further said the commitment made by the politicians should be transmitted to party members and supporters through vigorous enlightenment and by the examples that leaders showed in their conduct.
“It is important to note that careful attention has to be made to the messages posted and shared on social media which is more ubiquitous and therefore, more potent than the traditional campaign.
“The impression of anonymity that most of the social media use seems to encourage certain types of excess of intolerance, misinformation, hate speech, and sometimes dangerous incitements,” she said.
She urged law enforcement agencies on the need to monitor such excesses while calling on political parties, leaders, and candidates to enlighten their supporters on the need for responsible speech and conduct.