2023: NHRC, Pol. Parties, Security agencies, others brainstorm on curbing election violence
From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Representatives of various political parties and civil society groups brainstorm in Abuja ahead of the 2023 general elections on the need to curb himan rights violations during the election.
Discussions at the forum organized by the National Human Rights Commission , NHRC, centered on strategic integration of human rights into the 2023 electoral process as well as promoting and protecting citizens’ access and participation in the electoral process.
Other stakeholders at the forum were representatives of the various security agencies where other issues bordering on achieving human rights and issue based campaigns and preventing violence and ensuring accountability to human rights violations committed before, during and after the elections were discussed.
Speaking at the forum, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Dr. Tony Ojukwu, SAN, noted that
“this strategic forum on integrating human rights into the 2023 general elections is one of the steps the Commission is taking to build partnership, increase knowledge and mobilize stakeholders towards a human right centered approach to electoral participation and management.
He enumerated the objectives of the strategic forum to include: “brief stakeholders on the mandate and election support programme of the National Human Rights Commission; provide a platform for multi-stakeholders in the 2023 elections to have a shared understanding of human rights-based approaches to the 2023 elections and foster partnerships for the integration of human rights into the 2023 election process.
Ojukwu stated that the 2023 election is a significant milestone in our journey towards consolidating our democracy.
“For instance, the election will be the first under the new Electoral Act with its unique amendments that include the deployment of new technologies during the voting process. Secondly, the election will also throw in new political leaderships at the national level and in more than 15 states. Lastly, the election comes at a time when Nigeria continues to face huge human rights challenges, ranging from insecurity to weak law enforcement, poverty and inequalities.
He disclosed that his Commission is hopeful that the 2023 elections will be a coming-of-age for Nigeria as it emerges as a model for free, fair and credible elections in Africa and enthrone a government.
According to him, ” the Stakeholders invited for this forum include representatives of Political Parties, government ministries and agencies, civil society and the media. This is a reflection of our vision to be a convening platform for multi-stakeholders’ interaction and building of consensus on the place of human rights in our democracy.
At the end of this forum, all stakeholders would have become more aware of the crucial need for human rights in the electoral process as a pathway and also a milestone for the measurement of the success of an electoral process and our democracy at large.
The NHRC boss expressed confidence participants at the forum will come up with workable solutions and strategies to achieve the main objective of integrating human rights into all facets of our electoral processes.
Meanwhile, Ojukwu spoke on the project called Mobilizing Voters for Elections (MOVE), which was officially launched on October 17, 2022 with the aim of achieving the following human rights-based outcomes: promoting voter participation and access in the electoral process through citizens’ education for PVC collection and voting.
“Advocating human rights and issue-based campaigns for political parties and candidates
Monitoring, Countering and Reporting the use of hate speech before, during and after the 2023 general elections and promoting oversight and accountability in the role of law enforcement in protecting voter access and participation at the election.
He stated that the need for this project was also informed by the Commission’s concern over voter participation in elections which seems to have translated into a very serious case of voter apathy. It might interest us to know that since the general elections in 2011, the percentage of eligible voters participating in election has been on the decline.
The 35% voter turnout in the 2019 presidential elections was a wake call for the Commission and other stakeholder. The downward trend has continued in subsequent off-cycle elections in Ekiti and Anambra States.
Following from these experiences, promoting human rights by all actors has become crucial for the credibility and overall success of the 2023 elections in Nigeria. Since voting is an expression of human rights of citizens to enthrone government to manage their affairs, their participation in the process is the foundation of building legitimacy and upholding constitutional democracy in Nigeria.
Other stakeholders Kassim Gaidam, former Resident Electoral Commissioner of Adamawa State; Ms Mma Odi- Executive Director, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), Mr. Jide Obi- Executive Director, OJA Development Consult among others.
Ms. Adwoa Kufuor-Owusu, Senior Human Rights Adviser, Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator gave her goodwill message at the event.