Youth for Change and Social Life Development Foundation (YOFCI), a Non-governmental Organization has given explanation on the reasons behind the minimal incidents of election violence in the predicted election hotbeds in Akwa Ibom State during the 2023 general elections.
YOFCI explained that earlier reports from organizations like the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) had highlighted potential hotbeds for electoral violence in the state.
Local government such as Itu and Ibiono Ibom in Uyo Senatorial District, Onna and Eket in Eket Senatorial District, and Essien Udim and Ini in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District were identified as potential hotbeds prone to violence and conflicts.
Addressing journalists in Uyo over the weekend, YOFCI Program Lead Mr. Harrison Udim revealed that, driven by the report’s concerns, YOFCI initiated the Strategic Engagement and Advocacy for 2023 Peaceful Election (SEA-P) project.
The SEA-P Project sought effort to educate citizens on the importance of peaceful electoral process.
Udim noted that against the predictions, a combination of strategic engagement, advocacy, and community initiatives was deployed to raise awareness, encourage citizen participation, and curb conflict sensitivity and violence throughout the 2023 general election.
He hinted that the group engaged in advocacy visits to key stakeholders, organized town-hall meetings, conducted sensitization campaigns, provided capacity-building programs, and harnessed the power of media to educate citizens on maintaining peace and reducing conflict during the electoral process.
YOFCI Program Lead further explained that some of the executed projects included a press release at the launch of the SEA-P project, collaboration with other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and media partners.
Also, production of Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials for widespread awareness, engagement with stakeholders in targeted areas, and the signing of a peace pact with gubernatorial candidates at the Akwa Ibom State Governorship debate.
He noted that the organization also championed post-election outcomes media briefings and engaged with various media platforms to disseminate information on their findings.
On the achievements recorded, Udim noted that the group’s promotion of PVC (Permanent Voter Card) collection across the state and the encouragement of active citizen participation in voting, further played a big role in the election.
Offering more insight on the SEA-P Project, Udim noted that the SEA-P project not only aimed to reduce violence but also to equip citizens with knowledge on peaceful conduct throughout the election period, as well as minimized conflicts.
On the outcomes of the elections, Udim revealed that aside few incidents recorded in Ibiono Ibom local government area during the SEA-P project cycle, official election analysis reports demonstrated that the efforts of YOFCI led to enhanced citizen participation, a peaceful electoral process, and reduced violence in the target areas.
However, he revealed the SEA-P project which will culminate in November 2023, is funded by LEAP Africa and executed under the Nigeria Youth Future Fund (NYFF) and supported by Ford Foundation and MacArthur Foundation.