The Ekiti State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. AbdulGaniy Raji, has warned the youths against violence, “vote buying and selling” at the July 14 governorship election.
Raji also warned them against being used by politicians to attack opponents, voters and electoral officials adding they would be disowned, if arrested by law enforcement agents.
He expressed dismay that the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was slashed while that of the National Assembly was increased by the federal lawmakers.
Raji spoke yesterday at a Voter Education Retreat organised by Youngstars Development Initiative, 2Baba Foundation and New Generation for Girls and Women Development (NIGAWD) in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
The parley tagged “Vote Not Fight: Election No Be War” was also supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Kingdom for International Development (UKAID) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
Youths, who were drawn from the 16 local government areas, promised to take the campaign to their localities to ensure a peaceful poll.
Raji disclosed that between 60 and 70 per cent of those involved in violence at elections are youths whom he said are induced with money by desperate politicians in a bid to win at all cost.
He said: “Ekiti is a volatile state, the news being heard outside is that you cannot enter Ekiti. But the perception must change.
“It has moved from rigging or snatching of electoral materials to vote buying and vote selling. Before, when an election is disrupted, it will be cancelled but that no longer obtains.
“You do the election again and bring all security agents from elsewhere for such rerun election and you know what that means.
“With your activities, you can enlighten other youths, technology has been introduced to enhance the electoral process.
“We have enhanced the software of our machines during the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
“What used to take five to seven minutes now takes one to two minutes and this has enabled us to register over 50,000 new voters during the last CVR.”
NIGAWD Executive Director Abimbola Aladejare disclosed that a popular musician, Innocent Idibia, a.k.a. 2Face. has been commissioned as Campaign Peace Ambassador and he will perform live in Ado-Ekiti on June 22.
Aladejare added that the Vote Not Fight campaign will take take the message of peace to political actors, media organizations, transport workers, traditional rulers, religious leaders and other stakeholders.
Country Director of NDI, Aubrey Cutcheon, urged the youth to show readiness to take leadership roles and not allow themselves to be used as thugs.
Other speakers at the forum include the Commissioner of Police, Bello Ahmed represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ede Ayuba; the State Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dayo Famosaya; state Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ) Chairman, Rotimi Ojomoyela.