The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah, has called for discipline among political actors, as parties prepare for campaigns ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Mr Kukah made the call at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation’s 2022 peace conference on Tuesday in Abuja.
A panellist at the conference, Mr Kukah said electoral violence in Nigeria was attributable to lack of discipline among political actors.
“Ordinary Nigerians have no problem with religion; it is the manipulation and systemic manipulation of our different identities that are responsible for our violence,’’ he stressed.
He charged religious leaders to do their best to sensitise the public on the need for peace, but insisted that political actors must play their roles.
Another panelist and governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, said elected officials should regard themselves as being privileged or opportune to participate and contribute to nation-building.
He said Nigeria needed a president who would be a leader for Nigerians across board and not a sectional leader.
In his contribution, the Regional Director for Africa at the National Democratic Institute, NDI, Prof. Christopher Fomunyoh, said Nigeria could not afford to erode its past election gains in 2023.
The NDI is a non-profit American NGO that works with partners in developing countries to increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions.
“Elections have consequences; peaceful elections have a lot of benefits,’’ Fomunyoh, also a panelist, said.
He stressed that other African countries were looking up to Nigeria as the giant on the continent to conduct peaceful elections.
“No country stumbles into credible, meaningful elections by chance; there has to be a national consensus that the citizens want meaningful elections.
“Once that national consensus is there, it is going to raise the bar for stakeholders to comply with that national consensus.
“The political leaders should make sure in their conversations with their supporters that they talk about non-violent elections,’’ he stressed.
Executive Director at Centre for Democracy and Development, Dr Idayat Hassan, in her contribution, urged all stakeholders to take responsibility toward a successful conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“It is not enough for us to point accusing fingers towards the electoral umpire; we all need to take responsibility,’’ she said.
The Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, also a panellist, said political actors, media and civil societies must play their roles properly to ensure a peaceful election in 2023.
Ms Mbamalu said there was also the need for security agencies to pledge their alliance to the nation’s Constitution and not to a ruling party.
She also called for uniformity in the implementation of rules and regulations guiding the conduct of elections.
She said preparation for campaigns should not entail the amassing of arms and ammunition by politicians who should instead be sensitising their supporters to embrace peaceful conduct.
In his remarks, the Presidential Candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Prince Adewole Adebayo, said Nigeria must seize the opportunity of the 2023 general elections to address injustices facing the country.
The theme of the conference was “Nation building: The role of peaceful elections in a multi-ethnic context.’’