Ready to Lead Africa, a civil society organisation said it would lead Presidential Candidates to commit against exploiting youths for violence ahead of the General Elections.
Mr Godbless Otubure, Founder, Ready to Lead Africa, made this known at a news conference, themed: “Youth-led Presidential Peace Accord and Unveiling of the National Youth Peace Symbol” in Abuja.
Otubure said that Ready to Lead Africa would host the youth-led peace accord in partnership with the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Connected Development (CODE) and Nigerian Youth Parliament.
He said the project, supported by the Open Society Foundations, is aimed at curbing potential election-related violence in the 2023 elections and also address youths on plans for a peaceful election.
He said that Ready to Lead Africa is set to lead millions of Nigerian youths to choose peace over electoral violence as it hosts Presidential Candidates on Feb. 2 at the International Conference Centre.
“We are familiar with the events of violence that surround the process of elections in Nigeria.
“Our mission is to contribute to national leadership and development of sustainable peace in Nigeria, Africa and across the world.
“The Youth Against Electoral Violence Accord (YAEVA) is a Ready to Lead Africa peace-building initiative, designed to bring youths into the promotion of peace during elections via signing of an accord by Candidates.
“Youths are used to being used for violence, but now we are the ones calling on candidates to say we are no longer going to fight for you, we are no longer going to fight ourselves because of you.”
Otubure said that the YAEVA had been signed before ahead of six governorship elections of Anambra, Ondo, Lagos, Edo, Ekiti and Osun states.
He said that it was a testament to the strong intent of Nigerian youths to eschew violence and the corresponding commitment of political leaders to participate in electoral processes without inciting or sponsoring violence.
“The YAEVA is similar to the peace accord initiated by Rev. Kukah, Gen. Gowon and Gen. Abdulsalami but the only difference is the fact that it is led by youths.
Mr Hamzat Lawal, Executive Officer, CODE, said that the fate and the outcome of the election is centred around young people.
Lawal said that for the very first time in the history of Nigeria, youths have decided that they would not condone electoral violence.
“Therefore, the young people across Nigeria should join us in advocating for this and any candidate that does not show up on Thursday to sign the peace accord means that candidate does not support Nigeria’s unity, progress and democratic dividends.
“Youths have signed up for peace, so we are calling on all the presidential candidates to show up and sign this accord and say no to electoral violence and stop using young people to perpetrate evil, we would not accept it.”
Mr Rafiu Lawal, Executive Director, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation, said that it was not only enough to get politicians to commit to not using youths for violence but also to hold them accountable to involve youths in national peace building and security.
Lawal said that there was the need to have politicians to commit to the youths agenda of Nigeria and to adopt the National Action Plan for peace and security to involve youths in governance, among others.
Mr Yusuf Dantalle, National Secretary of the Inter Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC), commended the Ready to Lead Africa for the initiative.
Dantalle assured the group of IPAC’s commitment to building peace in the nation and for free, fair and credible elections.
He advised youths not to jump into politics starting from the national level but to grow through the process from the grassroots level.
He said that IPAC would continue to give the necessary support to all electoral stakeholders to ensure a credible poll.