By Ekemini Simon
Youth for change and Social life Development Foundation popularly known as Youth for Change Initiative (YOFCI) has launched an awareness campaign against election violence in the forthcoming general elections in Akwa Ibom State.
YOFCI says the campaign is tagged Strategic Engagement and Advocacy for 2023 Peaceful Elections Project (SEA-P) and is part of the organisation’s commitment to promote the peaceful conduct of elections in Nigeria.
According to a press statement signed by the Project Manager, Harrison Udim, the campaign is implemented in Akwa Ibom State through the Nigeria Youth Future Fund (NYFF) for LEAP Africa, a project jointly sponsored by MacArthur Foundation and Ford Foundation.
The organisation noted that in Akwa Ibom State, the project would take place across six local government areas of Ibiono Ibom, Itu, Essien Udim, Ini, Eket and Onna which cover all the three Senatorial Districts.
The statement pointed out that the organisation will engage with the political party’s stakeholders, aspirants, religious/traditional leaders, youth leaders/groups, media houses / social media influencers, women leaders/groups and the people with disability clusters.
The statement offered insight to the fact that the campaign is predicated on the fact that in every election in Nigeria, there is heightened tension and early signs of presumed violence across the Federation with the 2023 general elections not being an exception.
The statement said that findings from the recent pre-elections and political events in the country as well as Akwa Ibom State have shown that violence would still ensue and may hinder the free and fair conduct of the 2023 general elections.
The statement added ” it is eminent and imperative to address this through advocacy, awareness campaign, critical stakeholder and citizens engagement. Also, this presumed violence can be minimized if we have a more organized and enlightened citizenry (community stakeholders/die-heart party supporters) within the state to sensitise and engage the process by collaborating/partnering with relevant stakeholders such as media houses, (Print, Radio and online influencers), traditional and religious leaders, youth groups, and influential aspirants to sensitize the die-hard party supporters to maintain peace irrespective of the outcome of the elections since nobody’s life is worth the conflict.
YOFCI explained that the Project SEA-P will raise awareness of citizens on conflict sensitivity and election violence before, during and after the 2023 general elections through advocacy visits to relevant stakeholders.
The organisation also noted that the project will also vest citizens with information on how to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner all through the election period to avoid conflict or violence.
“We believe that the outcome of the project will lead to an increase in citizenry awareness of peace building and conflict sensitivity and avoidance to project positive outcomes that will lead to developmental stride”, the statement said.