By Olawale Ibrahim, Lokoja
About 35 days to the 2019 governorship election in Kogi State, the Challenge Parenthood Initiative, (CPI), a non-governmental organization has called for stringent legislation by both federal and state governments towards putting an end to political violence against women during the election in Nigeria.
The Executive Director of CPI, Eunice Agbogun made the call at stakeholders meeting with security agencies, community leaders and Political Parties on ‘ Get Out the Vote, GOTV, and Stop Violence Against Women in Politics, VAWIP.
Agbogun said the call became necessary as women over the years have continued to suffer violence while exercising their civic responsibility.
She noted that CPI in partnership with NDI, USAID and UKAID are jointly running a program to see that the outcome of Kogi State governorship election is violence-free adding that, campaign for a credible poll is ongoing through radio jingles, advocacy programs, advertisement, across the 21 local government of the State.
While stressing on the need to guarantee women safety before, during and after the election, Agbogun warned political actors to eschew politics of bitterness and hatred, but rather engage electorates with an issue-based campaign to sell their candidates.
Reemphasizing that Women form the larger proportion of voters for next month’s election, Agbogun stressed further that women must be protected by all and sundry and should not be intimidated when they intend to cast their votes for candidates of their choice.
In his remarks, the Country Director National Democratic Institute, NDI, Raymond Esebagbon noted that his organization has been monitoring electioneering activities in the country for over 20 years adding that, they are out to enforce good governance.
He noted that, Women had failed to participate in politics over fear of intimidations, religious belief, cultural barriers and some societal perception who are of the opinion that women should only suppose the men rather than participating actively in the process.
According to him, the world will be placing their searchlight on Kogi State as there is anxiety in the state that, it might be marred by violence following what played out during general election in February early this year.
To achieve a peaceful campaign, Esebagbon hinted that, over 500 election observers will be deployed to Kogi State just as 200 Persons living with disabilities will also be recruited, trained and deployed for the exercise.
He, however, admonished security agencies to be apolitical in the discharge of their constitutional duties.
Earlier in his remarks, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kogi State, Prof. James Apam said the commission is fully ready to conduct a transparent, free, credible and conclusive election.
Prof. Apam described the election as the hallmark of democracy, urging the political parties to play by the rules.
According to the REC, the early preparation by the Commission is to ensure a credible poll.
The REC while calling on political parties to be guided by the laws of the land however lamented that out of the 170, 664 uncollected PVC’s in the state, only 10,383 were collected.
He promised not to betray the trust placed on the commission, assuring that the commission will deliver a transparent, free and fair election in November.