CEPEJ, PIND Sign Peace Accord with Stakeholders, Political Parties amidst Governorship Election
|Chief Sheriff Mulade in a group photograph with participants including Amb. Prince D. Ebilade|
Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ) in collaboration with Partnership Initiative for Niger Delta (PIND) have signed a peace accord with Stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region, with key focus on election violence prone Local Government Areas in Delta State.
The event was held on Wednesday March 8, 2023 at the Petroleum Training Institute Conference Centre, Effurun, with lots of community leaders and political party members in attendance.
In his welcome address, Founder of Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, Chief Amb. Sheriff Mulade averred: “Our purpose of gathering here today is all about peaceful co-existence which cannot be over emphasized. We believe as an organization that there is life after election and that no matter the number of contestants, only one person can emerge as the winner. There is the common saying that what you don’t get today; you will get tomorrow as long as there is life. Also, a display of maturity is patience.
“On this note, we have put this meeting together to proffer solution for a way forward to sustain peace in our communities.
“We believe that all contestants are peace loving and law abiding citizens. Therefore, whatever that is presented to us as a way of sustaining peace in our communities should be welcome.
“I want to specially appreciate and commend the effort of our donor, Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta(PIND) for their relentless effort in organizing and sponsoring of peace programmes in Niger Delta.
“We the implementing partners, (CEPEJ) have a goal of promoting peace in Africa. We have a wide range of coverage in the six-geo political zones of Nigeria and some African countries.”
On his part, resource person for the Programme, Dr. Godwin Orhadahwe, Media Consultant, and CEPEJ's BOT Chairman gave a detailed profile of the organization and its dealings.
“Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ) a Pan African non-governmental, non-religious, non-political and not-for-profit civil society organization, was established in 2007 as the Niger Delta Re-orientation Project, NDRP.
“In line with its Pan African vision, it was later registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC in Abuja as Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, on January 15, 2010, with Head Office in Warri, Delta State, and branch offices at Kado Estate, Abuja; Ajao Estate, Lagos, Kano, Minna, Yenagoa and Maiduguri.
“CEPEJ utilizes internationally and locally identified strategies, and partners with relevant stakeholders within and outside Nigeria to achieve a peaceful and safer society through active community involvement,” he opined.
Speaking on CEPEJ collaboration with PIND on election violence and mitigation, Dr. Orhadahwe said: “CEPEJ has been in the forefront of advocacy for peace, promoting good governance and fundamental human rights through the use of capacity building, sensitization and enlightenment workshops/seminars, to ensure sustainably peaceful environment free from all forms of discrimination and violence in the society.
“PIND intervention programme is aimed at mitigating election-related violence before, during, and after the 2023 general elections in the Niger Delta Region, with its focus on Delta State.
“This is why CEPEJ is deploying its wealth of expertise in advocacy, sensitization as well as engagement of critical stakeholders to support the PIND's intervention programme of preventing and mitigating election violence.
“CEPEJ also leverages on existing partnerships with key local NGOs and CBOs such as Initiative for Sustainable Peace and Entrepenurship Development (ISPED), and also Partners for Peace (P4P), in Delta State to facilitate a multi-sector response to election-related issues that can lead to violence.
“CEPEJ also engages and partners with traditional rulers, community leaders, religious leaders, as well as women and youth groups. We partner with these development agents at the grassroots to ensure that project outcomes are mutually beneficial, sustainable and far reaching.
“PIND intervention programme centers on working with these stakeholders to help prevent and mitigate election violence in Delta State. The idea is to build the capacity of the community stakeholders network, CSN, to enable them respond to incidences of election-related conflict in Delta State.”
Dr. Orhadahwe stated further that in order for both organizations to achieve its overall objectives, CEPEJ embarked on sensitization of stakeholders through messages in the mass media, and grassroots communication such as town hall meetings, established and implemented Community Stakeholders Networks (CSNs); and Peace Monitors, trained the above groups on how to monitor and report incidences of election-related conflict, embarked on advocacy visitations, and organized multi-stakeholder fora (town hall meetings) and identified advocacy groups and influencers such as CSOs (civil society organisations), and CBOs (community based organisations), FBOs (faith based organizations) whose scopes of operation covers voter education/awareness campaigns against electoral violence.
“PIND intervention programme seeks to engage INEC, security agencies, youths at risk (ex-militants), opinion leaders and leaders of thought, on the prevalence of election violence in Ethiope East,
Oshimili South, Sapele, Udu, Uvwie, Ughelli North, Ughelli South, and
Warri North Local Government Areas of Delta State.
“The programme uses the complementary and synergy efforts of PIND in countering election violence ahead of 2023 general elections in the above targeted LGAs, and by extension, Delta State and Nigeria in general,” he averred.
Partners for Peace(P4P) State Coordinator, PIND Foundation,
Amb. Prince D. Ebilade who represented PIND’s Peace-building Manager, Dr. David Udofia, highlighted the role played by PIND in supporting peaceful elections in the State and across the Niger Delta region.
Pointing that peace is everybody’s responsibility and the commitment of all stakeholders, to take action by monitoring, reporting and mitigating election violence incidents, before, during and after the elections, just as he called on all stakeholders, political parties and candidates to adhere to the Peace Accord signed and play by the rules, and advise their supporters against perpetrating violence, during and after the elections.
Other members of the high table who also talked on the need to embrace peace at all times are: Oyem Blessing, Deputy Director, National Orientation Agency, SP Othuke Omenuwoma, DPO, Koko Division, Nigeria Police Divisional Headquarters, Warri North, Koko, Olorogun James Apoe Whisky, Oboakori of Ellu kingdom, DSC Kalu Kalu,l Iro, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Divisional Officer, Udu LGA, and Agbiloko Godwin, Head Unit, South-South 1 Zonal Peace building Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution.
High point of the event was the signing of the Peace Accord by Candidates and members of Political Parties present.
The below communique was reached by all participants at the end of the event:
1. Participants appealed to INEC officials and security agents to ensure a level playing field for all the contestants by ensuring that they do not take side with any political party.
2. Participants equally pledged to eschew any act of violence and not succumb to any bait to be used for political violence, adding that they would sensitize their families, friends and organization members to embrace peaceful polls.
3. Participants stated that the poor distribution of election materials at the polling units were prevalent in previous elections and urged the electoral umpire to act promptly by ensuring the early arrival of electoral materials in all polling units to enable the process to kick start on time.
4. They called on security agencies to beef up security during the exercise by deploying more personnel to polling units so that voters would exercise their franchise without harassment and intimidation by political opponents.
5. Participants were worried over the no transmission of Presidential and National Assembly results to INEC Server and failure of some BVAS machine in some polling units and advised INEC to ensure that the BVAS function well and backup battery as well as transmit results.
6. Finally, they advised INEC to ensure that the votes of Nigerians count.