By Temitope Adedeji, Akure
As the coast towards 2019 Elections begins to pave way, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has said members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country have crucial roles in educating and enlightening the voters to stop selling their votes during elections for a better future of Nigeria.
Gov. Akeredolu gave the hints while delivering his speech at the first Ondo State Civil Society Congress held at Bishop Gbonigi Hall, House, Ijapo Estate, Akure, with a theme: “CSOs, Catalyst for Sustainable Development”.
The Governor who expressed concerns over increasing rate of voters’ inducement and vote buying during elections in the country in recent time, appealed to Civil society organizations, human right activists and the media to enlighten the public on the dangers inherent in collecting money before voting political office holders.
Akeredolu represented by his Special Adviser on labour matters, Mr Alaba Isijola, said whoever collected money or any form of inducement before voting for contestants should not complain of maladministration or poor performance of those in positions of authorities.
He commended the initiative of CSOs in mounting pressure on government and its officials about good governance.
Akeredolu said, “My advice for civil society organizations ahead of 2029 general election is for them to engage in enlightenment and education of the public against vote buying, collecting money before voting is a very bad attitude that must be campaigned against by everybody particularly civil society”.
The Governor noted that, “Civil Society people are very important in our society, they fight for the masses every time, the ask questions on budgetary process, they track budget implementation for sustainable development. The government of Arakunrin Akeredolu will continue to partner civil society to improve people’s welfare”.
In a remark, Chairman of Ondo State Civil Society Coalition, Mr Franklin Oloniju lamented that vote buying was the greatest threat to democracy in Nigeria, explaining that the coalition in the state had been making a lot of contributions to the development of the stare and electoral process.
According to him, the group will continue to engage members of the public on the adverse effect of vote buying.
Oloniju sighted the direct intervention in resolving the crisis between farmers and herders in the state as one of CSOs’ achievements
Another member of CSOs in Ondo state, Mr Martins Alo said the coalition organised the congress to unite members for sustainable development of the state and to prepare CSOs on how to overcome emerging challenges in various developmental, health, budgetary and other sectors.
Martins Alo who is the proponent and claimant of a celebrated suit seeking the enforcement of Freedom of Information, FOI Act in Ondo state, vowed that CSOs would henceforth be more involved in matters that would enhance people’s welfare.
Two participants of the congress Thompson Babayemi and Yinka Odedele, in separate interviews stressed the relevance of the CSOs in the society, hence the need by government and international agencies to partner them for rapid growth.