Towards peaceful elections: EU-SDGN engages women, youths, persons with disabilities

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The European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Programme has stated that women, youths, and persons with disabilities play crucial roles in promoting peace and social cohesion across the country, especially during elections.

It noted that while stakeholders like political parties, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and others usually get the spotlight and attention before, during, and after elections, women, youths, and persons with disabilities are sometimes neglected.

It therefore stressed that for Nigeria to effectively achieve peace and social cohesion, the inclusion and participation of women, youths, and persons in the electoral process needs to be prioritised, as they can be effective Ambassadors to foster peace and stability.

The Project Manager of The Kukah Centre, Emmanuel Nkanta, made this known in Abuja, during a conference organised by the EU-SDGN, with the theme: Navigating pathways to promoting peace and social cohesion: the role of women, youths, and persons with disabilities

He said, “The essence of the conference is to make women, youths, and persons with disabilities to become agents and ambassadors of peace in their respective communities. We want to monitor the progressive changes that have occurred overtime, especially after the 2023 general elections; to collate feedback from them, and to strengthen interventions.

“The 2023 general election is gone, but the question remains: after the 2023 elections, what next? That is why we must not wait for the 2027 elections to draw near before we begin to engage people, encourage them, and empower them to be peaceful and cohesive.

“When we talk about key stakeholders, we mostly talk about the politicians, the government, INEC, and others. But we sometimes tend to neglect women, youths, and persons with disabilities.

“Apart from being vulnerable, they can also be used as a negative influence to promote violence in our society. They can become weapons in the hands of unscrupulous politicians with their own negative intentions.

“So, it became necessary to engage them and make them more of positive promoters of peace and social cohesion in our society. We can make them Ambassadors of peace, and also give them a platform where they can make their voices count.”

During the conference, the EU-SDGN also engaged leaders of Independent State Peace Architectures (ISPAs) from the six geopolitical zones of the country; training them on how to better support the work of the National Peace Committee through their interventions, conflict mitigation, and mediation.

Nkanta added, “We have 15 of them (ISPAs) spread across the six geopolitical zones. At the state level, they are working to support the work of the National Peace Committee through their interventions, mitigating conflicts, and mediating. These persons are credible men and women cut across the categories of traditional rulers, religious leaders, persons with disabilities, youths, women, and community leaders.

“It is our hope that this conference, which is meant to strengthen them and build them, will help them to better strategise and be more intentional towards promoting the ideals of peace building and social cohesion in our country.”

In his remarks, the Executive Director, The Kukah Centre, and Head of Secretariat, National Peace Committee (NPC), Fr Atta Barkindo, explained that while 2027 elections seems far away, it is critically important to begin to engage all stakeholders towards ensuring peace and stability.

“For a lot of people, 2027 is far away. But for us, this is the right time to begin to have this conversation, so that by 2027, things can be done differently, and in a much more credible manner and with integrity.”

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