In order to promote good governance in the nation, stakeholders including human rights attorney Femi Falana, general manager/editor-in-chief Vanguard Media, provost Nigerian Institute of Journalism, NIJ, Gbenga Adefaye, civil society, and INEC have tasked INEC with making sure the February 25 and March 11 general elections are free, fair, and credible.

They announced their decision on Wednesday during the Societal Concern/NIJ Town Hall Symposium with candidates for governor of Lagos State in 2023, which was held in the Ogba neighborhood of Lagos State.

“Nigeria Exhale, a clarion call for good governance” was the theme of the program.

New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, Lagos Gubernatorial candidate in the March 11 poll, Otunba Olarewanju Kamal, his counterparts from Oyo State, Tunde Okunade and Ogun State, Olufemi Oguntoyinbo, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP, Abiodun Alabi, Deputy Provost, NIJ, Dr. Dele Omojuyigbe, Head of Department General Studies, NIJ, Adeboye Ola, comrade Tunde, representatives of National Youth Council of Nigeria, students, among others attended the program.

The Lagos State Chairman of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, CDHR, comrade Kehinde Adeoye, spoke on behalf of Falana, one of the speakers.

Falana asserts that “nothing short of free, fair, and credible elections can provide decent administration for what patriotic Nigerians look forward to. Nigerians have endured a great deal.

“We implore the umpire of the 2023 general polls, INEC, to ensure that the rule of the game is strictly adhered to, no compromise, no corruption. Also, political parties must play the game according to the rules and INEC provides the level playing field devoid of harassment, intimidation of voters, among others. Any person or party that does not win, four years is not eternity.

“I also call on the media, the fourth estate of the realm to perform their duties professionally as the eyes, the nose of the public as well as the civil society, which is one of the pillars of democracy, as stipulated by the universal declaration of human rights-Geneva 1949.”

“If we must have good governance in Nigeria, this is the time we must all rice up. We all have a role to play. Get your PVCs, this is the time to elect those who will take us to the promise land.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have the constitutional right to condemn or challenge any bad government in authority. It’s necessary to vote for the right candidate for good governance.”   

Also, CP, represented by Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, Operations, Oludotun Odubono, spoke on the topic; “The security of citizens during the election.”     

Alabi, who said adequate preparation has been made to ensure a hitch-free exercise in Lagos, enumerated three phases in ensuring a hitch free exercise in any polls, which are, pre, during and post operations.

He disclosed the police command has mapped out all strategy to curb any form of unrest or violence before, during and after the polls.

According to Alabi, “The state police command has undergone series of orientation programmes conducted by INEC to ensure a hitch free exercise. Stratrgyn already in place to checkmate any unrest or illict act during the exercise. Raiding of black spots is ongoing to prevent possible violence during the poll.

“In the next two weeks, the police will embark on a stop and search operation on motorists to checkmate any movement of arms and ammunition by criminals.

“We are also in collaboration with our sister agencies to support and collaborate with us in providing adequate security during the exercise.”  

The Director, Societal Concern and a student of the institution, Oluwayomi Jegede, said, “It is my pleasure to host the program today ‘societal concerns Symposium ‘. On the platform of Pen radio, a community radio station owned by the NIJ.

“Our expectations as citizens, is to have a government that is committed to providing a transparent and accountable administration that can work for the betterment and welfare of the common citizens. 

“This event comes at a time of renewal of power and vigor. Let us use this opportunity to address the country’s long-standing governance challenges.”