The ECOWAS Commission has taken its phased training workshop on Dialogue and Mediation to political stakeholders in Nigeria’s South-west geo-political zone as part of the regional organization’s engagements towards ensuring peaceful elections in the country in 2019.
The three-day workshop, which opened in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub on Tuesday, 4th December 2018, is organized in partnership with the Folke Bernadotte Academy, FBA, the Swedish agency for peace, security and development, and the Abuja-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR).
In her remarks, Ms Cecilia Bylesjo, the FBA Dialogue and Peace Mediation Specialist said the partnership sought to strengthen the capacities of relevant stakeholders and peace actors in Nigeria towards ensuring a violence-free electoral outcome in 2019.
“By your contributions to solve electoral disputes, you are also exercising your democratic rights,” she told the participants.
In his address, IPCR representative, Mr Akangbe Oluwabamidele Moses, also highlighted the benefits of Dialogue and Mediation as important tools for addressing electoral disputes and mitigating violence as the Nigeria approaches its crucial 2019 general elections.
He therefore, urged the participants to cascade the benefits of the training to their various communities.
Welcoming the participants, Dr. Brown Odigie, of the Directorate of Political Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, noted that similar workshops had been held in the other geo-political zones of the country.
He said the objectives of the engagements included 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 South-west zone workshop, facilitated by Dr. João Gomes Porto and Dr. Mimmi Soderberg Kovacs, is being attended by representatives of women and youth groups, inter-faith organizations and traditional leaders. Also targeted by the organizers are representatives of governmental platforms involved in dialogue and mediation processes.
It is a follow-up to those held in Enugu, Enugu State (South-East zone); Benin City, capital of Edo State (South-South zone) Jos, Plateau State (North-Central zone) and Kaduna, in the North-west zone.
The ECOWAS Dialogue and Mediation Handbook serves as a facilitation text for 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.