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2023: Stop hate speech, Yiaga Africa tells candidates, parties

Ahead of this year’s general elections, Yiaga Africa has urged the 18 registered political parties and the candidates to shun hate speech and other electoral…

Ahead of this year’s general elections, Yiaga Africa has urged the 18 registered political parties and the candidates to shun hate speech and other electoral malfeasance, but to engage in issue based campaigns and enlighten the voters on their conducts.

This is contained in the 20-page ‘Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote Third National Pre-Election Observation (PREO)’ Report.

Hate speech on the basis of age, health, gender, religion, ethnicity or disability has remained relatively constant over time but the prevalence of each kind of hate speech varies by geo-political zone.

“In addition, the violence monitoring tool revealed the rising threat of violence and insecurity, in local government areas that are difficult to access for election-related activities due to insecurity. It also tracks attacks on INEC’s facilities and personnel and insecurity.

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“Yiaga Africa reiterates many of the same recommendations that emerged in previous reporting periods. Yiaga Africa encourages electoral actors with a mandate to provide voter information, especially on key changes to the electoral process, to increase activities in those areas where voters are relatively uninformed.

“We encourage candidates, media houses and citizens especially social media influencers to refrain from using incendiary language and to maintain a respectful campaign environment. We recommend that the upsurge in fuel prices and shortages be closely monitored as economic grievances could exacerbate tensions and serve as catalysts for electoral violence,” the report said.

It noted that the 2023 general election is Africa’s biggest elections in 2023 and an opportunity for Nigerians to elect leaders for respective offices which include the office of the President, 469 Legislators of the National Assembly, 28 Governors and 993 state assembly legislators in a potentially contentious election.

The report also said that the elections which will be conducted amidst a troubled economy, rising insecurity and fractured state and society relations remain a symbol of hope for the people in a developing democracy lasting through 23 years of uninterrupted civilian rule.

“The enthusiasm observed during the continuous voter registration exercise, collection of permanent voters cards and citizen’s engagement in the pre-election phase indicates hope in the value of democracy as freedom of the people to freely choose their leaders.”

“The success of the 2023 election will therefore be assessed on the level of compliance to generally acceptable integrity standards for elections in a democracy. Upholding a higher level of integrity quotient for the election remains paramount amidst a competitive and contentious elections especially in ensuring generally acceptable outcome of the election,” the report said.