In continuation of its initiatives to ensure conflict-free elections in Nigeria in 2019, a workshop organized by the ECOWAS Commission opened on Tuesday, 13th November, 2018, for political actors and civil society groups in the country’s South-East geo-political zone, on the use of dialogue and mediation as tools for preventing and mitigating election-related violence and disputes.
In an opening remark, a representative of the Directorate of Political Affairs of the ECOWAS Commission outlined the objectives of the workshop, which 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.
Others are providing a forum for participants to brainstorm and identify contending issues around the forthcoming elections and the possible role they could play in mitigating potential electoral violence before, during and after the elections; and to sustain and enhance ECOWAS’ strategic engagement with the political process in Nigeria.
The Enugu three-day workshop, which is also being attended by representatives of women and youth groups, inter-faith organizations and traditional leaders, is a follow-up to the one held in Benin City, capital of Edo State in the South-South zone last month after the one held in Jos, Plateau State, in the North-central zone in September.
Similar workshops for the North-West and South-West zones will be held before the end of the year.
The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the Abuja-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) and the Swedish-based Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), lined up the Dialogue sessions to strengthen the capacity of key Nigerian political stakeholders in efforts at prevention and mitigation of potential pre- and post-election-related disputes/violence, so as to ensure peaceful electoral outcomes.
The ECOWAS Directorate of Political Affairs (DPA), the organizers have also targeted representatives of governmental platforms involved in dialogue and mediation processes for the workshops. The ECOWAS Dialogue and Mediation Handbook, is being used to facilitate the engagements, with participants expected to acquire practical techniques and skills for dialogue and mediation as important tools for the management of electoral conflicts through role-plays and simulation exercises, the organizers added.