Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt
The Initiative for Credible Election, a group formed by former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Ledum Mitee, and some stakeholders in Rivers State, has cautioned the people of the state to shun election violence ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Mitee explained that apart from the threat to lives that election violence could cause, investors in Rivers would leave the state for any peaceful environment.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ engagement forum held in Port Harcourt, Mitee, who is the convener of the group also known as ‘ICE’, observed that elections in the state had in recent times been characterised by electoral fraud.
He pointed out that political tension; crises and a high level of violence recorded in the past elections in Rivers State were not good for the image of the state.
Mitee said, “Several businesses have in recent years moved out of the state with no discernible new ones moving in. Even private citizens are relocating with their families to other states that cannot boast any natural advantage over ours.
“The latest statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics show that we do not fall within the first three states with the highest reported crime rate in the country.
“We have examined the reasons why we have found ourselves in this ironical situation that in the midst of our endowment and natural advantages, we continue to be the butt of jokes and ridicules and have found that our situation is not unconnected with the growing perception of the state as a theatre of violence.
“What may not be very obvious to many is that violent elections in the state reinforce the perception of insecurity, which scares away businesses and thus deprives our youths of needed employment opportunities.
“Let me appeal to all of you here today and the general public to take this as our fervent invitation for a robust partnership to stem violent elections in the state. The challenges to overcome this menace of fraudulent and violent elections in our state are, no doubt, enormous, but not insurmountable.”
He, however, added that the group (ICE) would soon reach out to student unions in tertiary institutions in the state, traditional rulers and the National Orientation Agency on the need to sensitise the youths and other members of the public to shun violence during the 2019 elections.
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