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A coalition of over 70 civil society organisations working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria on Friday raised concern over the face-off between the Federal Government band Academic Staff Union of Universities which had led to about eight-month strike.
They said the strike had grave implications for the 2023 elections, including disenfranchisement.
While calling on the government and ASUU to reach an agreement to call off the strike, the organisations, under the aegis of Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, said all political parties and candidates should respect and uphold the provisions of Section 92 (1-6) and Section 93 of the Electoral Act 2022, ahead of 2023 general elections.
The NCSSR expressed these views in a statement signed by its Co-conveners, Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu, obtained by journalists in Abuja.
The statement read, “As we move towards the 2023 general election, it is worrisome that the Academic Staff Union of Universities is still on strike. Situation Room expresses concern over the implication of the strike action on the elections like disenfranchisement.
“It is important for a decision to be taken soon to enable students decide on time if they may require transfer of permanent voters cards to a location close to school.
“We, therefore, once again call on the Federal Government to reach an agreement to call off the strike.”
The CSOs also warned the citizens in social media and supporters of candidates and political parties to desist from cyberbullying and other forms of online intimidation.
The organisations said the call became necessary bearing in mind the need for peaceful elections even as the contest for elective positions becomes more pronounced with the kickoff of campaigns.
According to them, the police as the lead security agency in the electoral system of Nigeria should remain neutral in their provision of security during the election campaign period.
The statement read, “Situation Room has observed the activities of party supporters on social media and advises supporters to desist from cyberbullying and other forms of online intimidation.
“It is expected that there will be varying views, opinions and preferences. To this end, it is important to tread with caution and respect these differences.
“Situation Room calls on all political parties and candidates to respect and uphold the provisions of Section 92 (1-6) and Section 93 of the Electoral Act 2022 bearing in mind the need for peaceful elections even as the contest for elective positions becomes more pronounced with the kickoff of these campaigns.
“Political parties must refrain from equipping and employing persons to ferment violence with the intent to discredit another candidate or Party. The use of abusive language or campaign materials that could cause religious or ethnic unrest must be avoided.
“A political campaign should concentrate on issues aimed at providing solutions to the myriads of issues facing the country with practical roadmaps to actualizing them. Political parties and politicians occupying positions of power at the state levels should allow free and unfettered access to public facilities and venues for all campaigns irrespective of political party.
“Situation Room calls on Nigerian citizens to align themselves with political parties or candidates of their choice based on their strong conviction of the party ideology and proven capacity of the candidate to deliver on their campaign promises.
“Citizens should also look out for issue-based campaigns with feasible proposals on how to solve key issues plaguing the country. These issues range from security to education, economy and social welfare.
“Do not sell your vote for today’s comfort. Say not to vote trading and encourage other eligible voters to stand firm for what is right. Also, do not allow yourself to be used to cause unrest.”
“The mainstream media is saddled with the responsibility of creating and promoting political awareness amongst people in order to achieve a democratic society. We call on the media both public and private to use their platform to stimulate conversations on issue-based campaigns.
“Radio stations, television stations and print media should be conscious about broadcasting or publishing contents that could incite violence. Section 95 (1-5) of the Electoral Act 2022, stipulates acceptable standards and practices for the media during an election campaign.
“Situation Room, therefore, calls for unbiased reportage and equal media coverage for political parties and candidates.”