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Elections: Toyin Saraki Hails UN’s Message Of Peace

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The president, Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Toyin Saraki has hailed the United Nations secretary general’s special representative for West Africa, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas towards ensuring a peaceful polls in 2019.

Mrs Saraki disclosed this during the High-Level Dialogue on Promoting Peaceful Elections held at Kwara State, convened by the UNDP.

The discussions brought together key stakeholders to call for peaceful elections across the state and country.

She equally hailed the country representative for UN Women, Comfort Lamptey.

In recent weeks Mrs Saraki has made a series of high-level interventions, including at ‘A Women Leaders’ Forum to Promote Peaceful Elections’ organised by UN Women, the African Union and the Embassy of Germany, and conducted bilateral advocacy meetings with high-level representatives of foreign Governments.

Those meetings preceded statements calling for an election free of intimidation and violence and have subsequently been backed up with threats of visa restrictions for those found to be involved in anti-democratic activities.

According to her, “I commend the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who was joined on this peace mission by the Country Representative for UN Women Comfort Lamptey, for their calls for peace.

“I am delighted that so many women were on hand to lend support to the calls for peaceful elections.

“The elections ahead of us should be an opportunity for us to celebrate engaged citizenship and a thriving democracy.

“For that to be possible, we need a de-escalation of hateful rhetoric and the cessation of intimidatory tactics.”

She said the proliferation of reprehensible threats, such as the astonishing comments reportedly made by the Governor of Kaduna Nasir El-Rufai regarding “body bags” are as commonplace and widespread as they are dangerous.

Mrs Saraki said that they are also deeply irresponsible as are the threats which occur behind the scenes.

“It is imperative that our fellow citizens are able to exercise their democratic rights without fear of intimidation or violence. Our prevailing direction must be one of peace and unity, promoting respect between all peoples of every religion, race and political affiliation.

“We should also be in no doubt that the world is watching Nigeria as the elections approach. The European Union and various governments, including those of United States and the United Kingdom, have issued statements calling for our elections to be free from violence.

“Most importantly we owe it to our fellow citizens to foster an environment of respect and safety so that we can focus on the key issues facing Nigeria,” she said.

“As we look to the future, we must also ensure that all citizens can partake in elections. In Nigeria today, that is made all the more difficult by displacement and violence.

“The alarm has rightly been sounded by the UN regarding the displacement of thousands of Nigerians – 80,000 people have displaced from North East Nigeria since November, in addition to the two million people already displaced by violence or forced across Nigeria’s borders as refugees.

“The detrimental effect of that displacement on our citizens, particularly on young people and women, regarding their ability to engage in the democratic process, is most regrettable,” she said.

She also charge all candidates, parties and stakeholders to ensure that 2019 is remembered as a year of progress, democracy and citizenship.

She further applauded the grassroots groups working to that end and pray that Nigerians can exercise their democratic rights freely and fairly.

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