COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF 1-DAY MULTI-STAKEHOLDERS ENGAGEMENT FOR KOGI EAST SENATORIAL DISTRICT TOWARD THE NOVEMBER 11TH 2023 GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION IN KOGI STATE ON INTEGRITY AND COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION AT STATE LEVEL IN KOGI STATE ORGANIZED BY THE CONSCIENCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION (CHRCR) HELD AT HALIMS HOTEL LOKOJA ON FRIDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER 2023. IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC)
The Programme had in attendance Civil Society Organizations, Media, Persons with Disabilities, Women and Youth Leaders from the 9 Local Government Areas of Kogi East Senatorial District
The event featured presentations on Corruption, Integrity and Community ownership, Development of Community Scorecard and Questions and Answer sessions
– To strengthen our community efforts at positive transformation, and make it possible for citizens to imbibe the core value of integrity in the fight against corruption
– To encourage citizens in putting the country above all else as it will diminish the need for corruption as a survival of the weak and control the power of the strong persons.
– To open up an ongoing dialogue as to how to refine behavioural change and to bring out the best among citizens
_The following were observed:_
1. The sole female Governorship Candidate in the November 11th 2023 Gubernatorial elections has withdrawn despite the support from various stakeholders in the demand for women participation and representation
2. The campaigns for the November 11th 2023 Elections have commenced with little evidence of issue-based engagement by Political parties and their Candidates
3. There is evidence that the out-going administration in the State may not conduct Local Government elections before December 14th 2023, as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution as Amended,that at least 150 day’s notice shall be given to participating political parties before the polls.
4. Collection of Permanent Voters Cards towards the November 11th 2023 Governorship election has begun with INEC announcing the Local Governments involved. However, there is little information and awareness on this issue made available to the public by INEC.
5. Opposition parties on the platform of IPAC have not been vibrant in holding the current ruling party accountable
6. Elected political actors do not make themselves available to citizens for engagement and this has implications as confidence of the people in the process is low particularly at community levels
7. There is serious concerns about safety of Women and Persons with Disabilities towards the November 11th 2023 Governorship election.
8. Political parties and their candidates have no strategic campaign messages on Anti-Corruption meanwhile this has become a key challenge at state level in our electoral process.
9. There is still a weak engagement of the Electoral and Governance process by Citizens for Accountability and Transparency.
10. There has been no visible effort to bring together Political Parties and their Candidates to discuss their manifesto for the Citizens in the November 11th 2023 Governorship elections
11. The restriction on posting of political Bill Boards and campaign materials by the Signage Agency in Lokoja is loop sided and favours the ruling party. This policy shrinks participation in the political space, which is against the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022
_The engagement made the following recommendations:_
1. Need for women groups to engage the participating political parties and their candidates, on issues around women participation in the political process and leadership.
2. There is the need for participating Political parties to join the legal campaign to reverse the restriction on posting of campaign materials such as Bill boards and posters
3. There is need to improve the constant capacity and awareness of citizens on their roles and responsibilities in the Accountability and Anti-Corruption campaigns in elections.
4. Citizens must continue to hold elected political leaders accountable by insisting community engagements towards the November 11th 2023 elections.
5. The demand for issue-based campaigns has always not been upheld by political parties and their candidates. To this end, they must ensure that citizens issues rather than any other primordial sentiment is at the forefront of their campaigns
6. Citizen groups must be courageous and bold in demanding for accountability and transparency on elections at State level as this is their constitutional rights and responsibility
7. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a matter of urgency, should engage citizens on where, when and how to collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC)
The engagement concluded by appreciating CHRCR in their crusade. They also appreciated CISLAC and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their continued support
*Idris Miliki Abdul*
Conscience for Human Right and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR),
Lokoja, Kogi State