Ahead of Imo State governorship election, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has charged relevant stakeholders to promote peace and support the agency’s mission to mobilise the electorate and ensure free and fair elections during the off-season polls.
The Director-General of NOA, Garba Abari, made the call on Wednesday, while flagging off the agency’s off-season governorship polls sensitization campaign on the new Electoral Act, civic participation, and peaceful election in Owerri, Imo State capital.
Abari was concerned about the comparatively low voter participation despite what seemed to be Nigerians’ enthusiasm for the 2023 general election.
The NOA boss further said the level of violence, manipulations, and desperation exhibited during elections have generally given democracy a bad name, and all of us as Nigerians have a duty to put a stop to that.
For us in the NOA, “We find the Imo election particularly interesting because we must strengthen our structures to reach all the creeks and communities where the rains and floods may have made access difficult.
“Already, naysayers are predicting a violent atmosphere in Imo State. As stakeholders, we should commit ourselves to peace during the forthcoming election.
“The media, especially, must wake up to their duty of promoting peace and disallow political actors from using their channels to promote instability and violence during the elections.
“I also use this opportunity to call on our Community Orientation Officers (COMOS) to redouble their effort to carry voter education and sensitization activities to the remotest part of the state so that the forthcoming election reflects the true choice of the people. We need to inspire confidence in the democratic model, which has served several countries so well.”
Also speaking, the Imo State Director of the agency, Mrs Maureen Oparaji, said the purpose of the gathering was to increase people’s participation in the forthcoming election through sensitisation and engagement of stakeholders.
Oparaji further said residents have a role to play in ensuring that the level of awareness of voters about this coming election is high and peaceful. She said that peaceful elections are the key to the credibility of election outcomes, while credible leaders emerge when elections are peaceful and orderly.