The post-election town hall meeting held in Port Harcourt by International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), in partnership with Youth Alive Foundation(YAF) has faulted the conduct of politicians during the 2019 general elections in Rivers State.
The town hall meeting which was dully attended by various civil society organizations in the state; National Orientation Agency(NOA), Independent Corrupt Practice Commission(ICPC) and representatives of other Security agencies in Rivers State had post-election matters as the topic for discussion.
In his opening remarks, Prince Ekpere, the state coordinator of electoral violence reporting for IFES, said election in every society is mandatory as it is the process through which citizens must to get leaders who will govern them.
Mr Ekpere added that in electoral processes, violence does not grow the society, rather it diminishes. “To curb election violence, we must continue to talk and educate ourselves until we can have a credible election in the country”
Continuing, Mr Ekpere said: “Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seems to have made improvement in the level of sensitization of electorates”.
He also faulted some politicians for their misconducts during the just concluded general election in the state.
He noted that the level of violence witnessed in 2019 election has not been witnessed before in the history of election conducts in the state.
Prince Ekpere described the extent of violence as worrisome while adding that the involved should be brought to justice
On his part, one of the facilitators of the town hall meeting, Dr Marshall Jumbo, a staff of “We The People”, a center for social studies and development said “We came here to do an assessment of what transpired in the last election and also see how We can proffer solutions so that next election will be violence-free to the extent that people can come out freely to vote.
Also, Mr Ken Henshaw, Executive Director of “We The People ” revealed that the major reason crime has continued in the country’s electioneering system is that perpetrators of violence in past elections were not dealt with.
Continuing, he said if election offenders are not made to face the law squarely/ prosecuted, Nigerian elections will continue to witness violence, vote buying and malpractices.
Also, the ICPC representative, Mr Livinus in his remarks said “With our deliberations today, We will come out with suggestions that will bring about less risk in subsequent elections”
National Orientation Agency (NOA) representative in his contribution said “We have not had credible elections since 1999 till date, until election riggers are made to face the law, then we can be sure of free and fair elections in the country”
The representative of the State Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in his speech called for more synergy between stakeholders in the electoral process.
The town hall meeting also featured question and answer/interactive session
The highlight of the town hall meeting was a panel session which featured discussions around findings on post-election situation analysis, identifying gaps and recommendations.