Ready To Lead Africa (RTLA), a youth-led civic ecosystem for emerging leaders across Africa, has called on gubernatorial candidates to pledge their commitment to nurturing a peaceful and peaceful electoral environment in their states.
Godbless Otubure, global president of RTLA made this call on Monday in Abuja during a press conference on the palpable tensions in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled governorship elections in the three states for November 11, 2023.
Speaking on the state of electoral violence in the states, Otubure said “As we stand on the brink of the Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo governorship elections, a palpable tension looms over these states, and it is with deep concern that we address you today.”
“ReadyToLead Africa, resolutely committed to being the catalyst of change, refuses to remain passive witnesses to the recurring spectre of electoral violence that hunts these regions. Our unwavering dedication to forging a peaceful and democratic society compels us to confront these pressing issues head-on,” he said.
Otubure said the organisation has conducted research to unearth sobering statistics of violence in the three states that warrant immediate attention.
“In both Kogi and Bayelsa, we have borne witness to a distressing surge in electoral violence incidents, leading to 10 tragic fatalities and 129 cases of violence.
“Kogi, in particular, has borne the brunt, with 66.21 per cent of these cases spreading like wildfire across its 21 local government areas (LGAs). Equally troubling is Bayelsa, which recorded an alarming 66.7 per cent surge, with Yenogoa, Ekeremor and Sagbama emerging as the hardest-hit areas.”
He also added that Imo remarkably ranks even higher in volatility and election-related tension than Kogi and Bayelsa states.
According to him, the data on electoral violence are more than mere numbers—“they are ominous warning signs that threaten to disrupt the forthcoming gubernatorial elections” in the states.
He further added that RTLA is taking proactive steps to address electoral violence in the states with its peace initiative—Youth Against Electoral Violence Accord (YAEVA), to amplify the clarion for peace and to implore all candidates to pledge their unwavering commitment to nurturing a peaceful electoral environment.
“We wholeheartedly call on all candidates to embrace this vital message of peace and to honour the invitations we have extended to them.
“In the coming days, we will conduct a momentous signing of the youth-led peace accord, wherein candidates from across the political spectrum will come together in their respective state capitals to make this solemn commitment.”
He noted that this would turn the tide of electoral violence and pave the way for a future where democracy thrives, unmarred by the shadows of violence and discord.