Nigeria’s Edo State government has lauded the ECOWAS Commission for hosting in the State, the second of a series of workshops to sensitise political actors and civil society groups on the effective use of dialogue and mediation as tools for preventing and mitigating election-related disputes and conflicts ahead of Nigeria’s crucial general elections in 2019.
Opening the workshop in Benin City, the State capital on Tuesday, 9th October, the Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora, Honourable Osaze Osemwegie, said the engagement would complement the peace efforts of the State Governor Godwin Obaseki.
He said until no, the South-south region of Nigeria was volatile with rampant cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes, noting that the situation was changing for good.
Among Edo State government officials that attended the opening ceremony of the workshop in Benin City, was Mrs Efosa Uyigue, Special Adviser to the Governor on Gender.
In his opening remarks on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission’s management, Mr Ebenezer Asiedu, said the workshops were being organized by the Directorate of Political Affairs (DPA), in collaboration with Nigeria’s Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), and the Swedish-based Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA).
They are designed, he said, to strengthen the capacity of political actors, peace agents and infrastructures for peace platforms in efforts at prevention and mitigation of potential pre- and post-election-related disputes/violence, so as to ensure peaceful electoral outcomes.
He explained that all the engagements would be held before the end of the year in five of Nigeria’s six geopolitical Zones, with the first already held in Jos, Plateau State in the North-Central zone. After Benin City in the South-South, others will follow in the North-West, South-East and South-West, the ECOWAS official added.
Specific goals of the workshops include, creating the opportunity for participants to appreciate the ECOWAS normative principles and frameworks for transparent and peaceful elections, and the organization’s commitment to using dialogue and mediation in resolving electoral disputes and conflicts.
Recognizing that electoral disputes have become a major source of conflicts in West Africa, the ECOWAS Commission and partners organized similar workshops in other member States, including before recent elections in Liberia (2017), Sierra Leone and Mali (2018), and also ahead of the crucial legislative polls in Guinea Bissau.