Youth Initiatives for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) says Nigeria will record significant democratic milestone if it conducts free and fair elections in 2019.
Executive Director of the group, Mr Samson Itodo, stated this in the organisation’s “Watching the Votes (WTV)’’ series made available to our reporter in Abuja on Friday. He said that WTV had provided opportunity for key stakeholders to engage in pathways of ensuring free, credible and peaceful polls.
According to Itodo, the election will underscore Nigeria’s political stability, credibility and sustainability of its democratic credentials.
“Typical with Nigerian elections, the country has been hurled into another state of trepidation due to the forthcoming elections.
“With exactly 10 months to the general elections, the amendments to the electoral legal framework are still inconclusive.
“The security situation is raising fresh concerns on peaceful conduct during the elections.
“The acrimony and emotive debates over the sequence and order of elections has since raised fears that competitive rigging and balance of terror would characterise the 2019 general elections,” he said.
Itodo said that any democracy under threat would be buffeted by several unsettling factors, which required urgent attention to prevent it from haemorrhaging the country to death.
He said that some of the unsettling factors bedevilling the country included “upsurge of political villains and desperate politicians seeking to acquire power by all means and at all cost.
He added that the violence instituted by the political class often deterred people from participating in the electoral process, thereby increasing the level of voter apathy.
According to the director, the desperation and recklessness of the political class is the major factor driving the violence in the nature of politics in Nigeria.
He stressed that national security, voter-apathy and poverty were major threats that confronted a nation’s democracy.
Itodo also advised that Nigeria should put premium on the credibility of voter register, saying that as bedrock of any credible elections, its authenticity and credibility must be guaranteed for an election to be free and fair.
He said that YIAGA had resolved that Nigeria’s democracy was diagnosed to be under threat as it was faced by unsettling factors that could hinder any country’s democracy.
He, however, recommended that the gains of democracy should be sustained to avoid an “authoritarian reversal”.
Itodo urged politicians to play down self-interest in their quest for power, and advised citizens to constantly monitor and evaluate the performances and lifestyles of public office holders.