The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has raise alarm of violence and other threats to the 2019 General Elections.
The Country Director of the USIP in Nigeria and senior program officer for Africa Programs, Oge Onubogu, said this yesterday in Abuja at the presentation of the ‘Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: Change, Continuity and the Risk to Peace’, a presentation of USIP’s Electoral Violence Risk Assessment Research.
According to her, based on interviews conducted in Adamawa, Anambra, Ekiti, Kano, Lagos, Plateau and Rivers states and in FCT, researchers found that the approach to confronting electoral violence in Nigeria has changed little since 2015, despite significant shifts in the political and security context.
“These shifts include changing narratives about insecurity and the increased prominence of intra-political party disputes relative to the previous elections, which suggest that significant electoral violence is likely to occur in the period before balloting,” Onubogu said.
In his presentation, a co-author of the study and a USIP senior advisor, Dr. Chris Kwaja, said the Ekiti State governorship election coming up in about 10 days will be a major battle between the APC and the PDP which controls the federal and state governments respectively.
Kwaja, who is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, said Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State had already said publicly that the election would be a battleground for 2019.
“The Ekiti State election is between a party that wants to rule at the national level and a national government which sees Ekiti as a state that must be captured at all cost. We can say it is a clash of the titans because old actors view Ekiti as a battleground for 2019.
“What is the implication of the governorship election scheduled for just some days from now? It is that some of the grievances arousing from the conduct of primaries, both for the APC and the PDP, will lay a solid foundation for future grievances in the run-up to the 2019 elections and for us, that is a pointer to some of the risks of violence if not really factored into some of our discussions and programming,” Kwaja said.
Also, the study’s lead author, who is also a visiting expert at the USIP and a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute, Mr. Aly Verjee, stressed the need for intensified international diplomacy to pre-empt and mitigate electoral violence.