From AMEDU JOSEPH, Lokoja
Popular Nigerian artiste, Innocent Idibia (2Baba) has charged youths in Kogi State to be peaceful, civil and shun violence before, during and after the forthcoming governorship polls in the state.
Idibia made the call at a Peace Concert on “Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War”, organised by Participation Initiative for Behavioral Change in Development (PIBCID) in collaboration with National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Lokoja.
Our Correspondent reports that, the concert which drew over 5,000 youths drawn from the 21 local government areas and various tertiary institutions in the state was supported by UKaid, USAID and 2Baba Foundation.
The popular musician asserted that, the process of election should be peaceful and civilised stressing that, his organisation, 2baba Foundation, had mobilized over 62 million people in the country to drive the campaign for peace.
Idibia who had earlier paid a courtesy call on Chief Edward Onoja, Chief of Staff and running mate to the APC flag bearer, Governor Yahaya Bello, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) secretariat Prospectively, urged security agencies and the electoral umpire, INEC to be neutral in the discharge of their duties
Prof. James Apam, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kogi, said the state had witnessed various forms of electoral violence in past elections and there was need to change the status quo.
Apam said that, as part of preparations for the election, the Commission had recruited senior ad-hoc staff that was currently being trained adding that, students from tertiary institutions in the state would be used in conducting the election.
Halima Sadiq Executive Director, PIBCID, stated that the concert was organised to promote peaceful and non-violent election saying that the youth had latent energy and ability that could be channeled to productive engagements for attainment of peace.
She urged them not to present themselves as willing tools of violence for selfish politicians, urging them to exercise their franchise, value themselves and promote peaceful election come November 16.
Dr Raymond Esebagbon, Acting Country Director, NDI, partners in the “Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War”, campaign said the Institute’s message to the youth was for them to do the right thing and resist attempts by selfish individuals to use them for violence during the election.
“We want to promote peace across our elections. Youths can participate in the election in different ways – as staff of INEC, voters, agents and so on but all must be towards ensuring peaceful, free and fair conduct.”
Eunice Agbogun, Executive Director, Challenged Parenthood Initiative (CPI), also speaking at the concert, enjoined youths to be actively engaged in the Stop Violence against Women in Politics and Get out the Vote (GOTV) campaign.
Agbogun said that the position of women in politics was very key and urged youths not to allow themselves to be used in perpetrating violence adding, “We want our women to be given space to participate, take elective and appointive positions in government.”
Our Correspondent also reports that nine performing artistes comprising seven musician and two comedians performed alongside 2Face Idibia and his wife Ann, at the concert.