By Emiko Perea
During election season in Nigeria, rather than simply showing support for a political leader, Nigerians dread the violence that often occurs before election day. Extremists who support opposing political parties often bring violence into the streets up to the day of the election.
To ensure a peaceful local election in Southern Kaduna on September 4, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria collaborated with the Jema’a Local Government Area chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria to form a dialogue with over five hundred youth in Southern Kaduna on August 26, 2021.
The forum featured security professionals, representatives from the major political parties, and other dignitaries who shared how young people can support a peaceful election season.
Representatives of different groups appealed to the young people to maintain a peaceful attitude during the election season and affirmed that each person had to right to vote for whomever they wanted into office. They were also warned against using violence or intimidation, or being used by politicians, during the election season.
“Election is not a war and to vote is not violence.” --National Youth Council of Nigeria slogan
Rev. John Joseph Hayab, GPF Nigeria country director, appealed for young people to be the vanguard of positive change toward ensuring a peaceful election by not spreading hate speech and rumors. The country director challenged Nigerian politicians to mentor youth and not take advantage of them. He said that the youth will be the leaders of tomorrow, and if we destroy our future leaders, we destroy the future of the country.
State Youth Coordinator Hon. Bagudu Johnson thanked all participants and particularly GPF Nigeria for their support and training of young people. He said youth had acquired the help necessary for them to be peace ambassadors in the state and country, and they would continue to contribute to peace beyond the election.
For more information on GPF's peacebuilding work in Nigeria, visit Global Peace Foundation Nigeria.