LAPDO facilitated a one-day Stakeholders Peace Dialogue. The dialogue focused on Reduction of Electoral Violence towards increasing Women and other vulnerable population, Political Participation in the State. At the conference, the leaders of the various opinion leaders and stakeholders, political parties and candidates signed a Pact to ensure Gender Based and Violence Free Electoral Process towards creating an atmosphere for increased women and PWDs political participation. 70 participants including key stakeholders such as INEC, Police, Political Parties, Women Coalitions, Women Political Aspirants/Candidates, FIDA, NBA, NURTW, State Ministry of Women Affairs, National Orientation Agency, CSOs, PWD and other critical stakeholder was invited. During the meeting, LAPDO shared election observation checklist that will be used for the election’s observation as it relates to Women and other vulnerable groups and incidences of violence in the 2019 election in the State.
Following the registration of participants, the Executive Director of LAPDO gave his opening remarks on the LAPDO activities and the situation room collaboration project with the title” Reducing Gender Based Violence for Increased Women Political Participation in Ondo”. He said Women, elderly, people with disability and other vulnerable groups are often victims and causalities of election violence. To this end, LAPDO is implementing a project with support from the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room to address issues of violence and enhance participation of women and other vulnerable groups in the upcoming 2019 general elections in Ondo state. The goal of the project is to promote peaceful and non-violent electoral processes in 2019 General Elections and the activities to achieve this are: pre-activity visits to stakeholders, I day state level dialogue meeting; to achieve this, LAPDO conducted pre-activity visits to stakeholders, state-level stakeholders meeting, reorientation/training meeting of existing and new observers; establish state-level situation room; conduct shun violence awareness rally; print and distribute IEC materials; conduct let’s talk election 2019 on radio; conduct 3 senatorial town hall meeting on 2019 election; organize social media campaign on 2019 election. The expected outcomes of the project are: having enlightened stakeholders driving Gender Based Electoral Violence Free Election campaign in 2019; citizens appreciation and understanding of key issues of Gender Based Electoral Violence and its impacts on vulnerable populations in the State identified and violent free 2019 election with active participation of women and other vulnerable groups coming out to cast their votes.
The 70 participants including key stakeholders such as INEC, Police, Political Parties, Women Coalitions, NURTW, Women Political Aspirants/Candidates, FIDA, NBA, State Ministry of Women Affairs, National Orientation Agency, CSOs, PWD and other critical stakeholder met in the one day state level peace dialogue organized by LAPDO in conjunction with Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and other partners learnt and brainstormed on how to address violence against women and persons with disability during the forth coming 2019 general elections and ensure their inclusiveness in the forth coming 2019 general elections in Ondo state.
Participants at the workshop observed that:
- We need to know the triggers of violence during election period and how they can be identified and security tips that can help prevent violence. What N.U.R.T.W. are doing to sensitize their members outside Akure and the role of community leaders to ensure sensitization even from home and societies. Are their guidelines we can follow to report incidence of violence.
- The idea of vote, go home or wait and ensure your vote count should be reviewed to know which best practice to adopt by the voters in reducing violence causalities during elections.
- The Executive Director of The Good Samaritan International asked if the INEC voting guidelines is PWD compliant and were PWDs well represented among the selected observers for the general elections.
- What is NOA doing about void votes and the hotlines from the civil defense that one could call to report incidences of electoral violence.
- JANAPWD appreciated LAPDO for giving them 18 slots as observers
- There was a call for the respect of the elderly and condemn sales of alcohol around the polling units.
- Samuel Akinola call attention to the issues of vote buying and urge all to support the securities during the general elections. He also advice the N.U.R.T.W. to be very cautious about the role in the delivery of sensitive materials and suggest that NOA should intensify their sensitization and work with the NGOs.
- INEC should ensure sensitive materials arrive the polling unit on time.
- Political Parties and their agent should shun Campaign on the Election Day in any form.
- Politicians monitoring voting should not try to persuade voters to vote for them on the Election Day.
- Lack of trust on the political party’s candidate and party agents by the electorate should be strengthened. For any emergency on the election day the Nigeria Police can be reached with this control room numbers which are 08075391808,07034313903.
- The National Orientation Agencies said that we should ensure that suspected cases of violence at the community and on the election, day should be quickly reported to the security agencies within the area so that the violence can be easily controlled and managed.
- The Nigerian police assures all that the Nigeria Police Force is ready for the general elections and will ensure that the security of women, person with disability and general citizens is guaranteed .The Commissioner of police (represented) said the electoral act does support coming to the polling Booth with ammunitions and if the person is a security personnel they should maintain some distance from the polling booth so as not to instill fear in the voters. More men will be posted to populate the violence hot spot during elections in Ondo state.
- The Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) said they are collaborators with other security agencies in Nigeria and they are putting all measures in place to ensure that the forth coming election is violent free. They also have election monitoring unit that will patrol all polling booths on the Election Day to ensure a violent free election. The hot line to call for the NSCDC is08145204046, 07056271142, 07055257770.
- The N.U.R.T.W said that they are already sensitizing their people on the peaceful conduct of their members in ensuring peaceful and violent free elections. They also pledge that they will ensure that the sensitive materials of INEC are transported to the polling booths on time and safely delivered.
- The royal fathers said all the deities such as Ogun, Esu, Obatala, Sango and Eledumare has been appeased for spiritual control using the He-Goat to Esu,Cork to Obatal the God of Divinity. Various T-Junction is equally appeased with eko,epo,akara for the withches to ensure that spiritually there is peace on the election day.
- PWDs are selected by LAPDO for situation room election observers. More PWDs are will equally play more cogent role with other agencies to ensure they ae equally represented.
- NOA also support that voting centers should be disability friendly and they have flag off the sensitization of general citizens on void votes and on the 14th of January throughout all the 774 wards in the state the civic orientation on void votes is flag off commenced and it is ongoing. She also suggested that the sales of alcohol at the polling booths should be discouraged. NOA is also using house to house method to sensitize the people. People should support implementation of INEC guidelines in respect of buying and selling on the Election Day. The visually impaired can be assisted during voting.
- There are 203 wards in Ondo state, total polling unit is 3009 while two are no longer active in Ese-Odo L.G.A. so we have 3007 units. . There are 3 senatorial districts,9 federal constituencies and 26 states constituencies. INEC will use the smart card readers for accreditation. Accreditation and voting will be continuous. After accreditation voters will be given ballot papers. For PWDs, INEC is training her adhoc staff to treat PWDs high preference during voting. Tomorrow, INEC will engage all presiding officer across the 18 L.G. As in a training with emphasis on special voting easier for the PWDs .INEC have been engaging leaders of the various security agencies in ensuring a free, fair and credible elections come February and March 2019.