By Musa Adamu
As the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State continues to draw near, Youth Leaders across the participating 17 political parties on Monday kicked against vices that could mar the electoral process.
The youth leaders made the move in Akure, the Ondo State capital during a sensitization workshop put together by the International Republican Institute, IRI to engage party youth leaders on peaceful elections.
During the programme, risk factors that could generate tension and violence in the build-up to the polls were identified as political thuggery, vote-buying, undue interference by party agents among others.
Speaking at the workshop which was in partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and Kimpact Development Initiative, KDI, the Youth Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Olutayo Babalayo who lauded the initiative emphasized that all will be done to prevent youths within the party from engaging in violent acts capable of disrupting the electoral process.
On his part, the Youth Leader of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Folorunso Makinde stated that “We don’t want our members to be thugs because we are the future of this state and this country” while other participants at the workshop also towed the same line.
Earlier, the representative of IRI, Sunday Alao and that of KDI, Folashade Gbamigboye said that the workshop was aimed at ensuring that youth party leaders and agents help forestall violence in the state ahead of the election.
Folashade said “We have seen previous elections in Ondo State being marred by violence, of course with the last local government election we saw ballot box snatching, thuggery among others.
“We have never had a forum where youth party agents are brought together to discuss and dialogue for peace. So, the aim of the workshop is to discuss and proffer solutions that the stakeholders will come up with which will be like a peace pact among the youth leaders.
“KDI carried out an assessment that showed from the residents of Ondo State that thuggery topped the chart of the risk factors that could bring about violence during the election. With this report, we are engaging different stakeholders like the security agents, party agents and party supporters towards making sure that people are sensitized and aware of these issues so that at the end of the day we would able to bring about solution and that the issue of political thuggery is brought to an end in the coming election.
“It’s a wakeup call to every party leader and agent for them to talk to their supporters particularly the youth because they are the perpetrators of thuggery. They should be made to know the implication of their actions not only on the election but on the development of the state and their own wellbeing.”