By Mary Bassey
Youths in Calabar South Local Government of Cross River State have pledged total support for violence-free 2023 general elections.
The youths made the pledge during a community outreach by the Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War campaign team.
Mr. Lawrence Peter, team lead of the campaign team said the outreach was necessary considering the fact that Calabar South is a hotspot.
According to him, the participants were carefully selected from the 12 wards of the LGA. He thanked everyone present for honoring this invitation.
Mr. Lawrence said, ”over the years we discovered that post-electoral violence is something else and in most cases, the people that are used to carrying out this violence are youths.
“That’s why we see the need to come to Calabar South. Why do we need to engage in violence when we should be looking for peace?”
He stated that the campaign’s overall goal is “to see how we can reduce the incidence of violence and vote buying.”
Also speaking, Mrs. Mercy Igboke of the National Orientation Agency said electoral vices cannot be introduced by aliens but by people within.
She urged them to “check yourself if truly you desire free, fair and credible elections we will not encourage violence. When they call you say no, when others know you refused they might be persuaded to also turn down any violent offer.”
On her part, Miss Ukeme Albert of We The People said “election is definitely not war. The best we can do for ourselves is to protect our mandates.”
She reiterated that “we need to be one to tell ourselves enough is enough. We are all leaders of ourselves, let’s go out and vote who we want.”
A participant, Efa Eyo Okpo-Ene said security is essential before, during, and after elections.
Lamenting about the state of things he said “most of us are not being sensitized about why we vote. It’s one thing people need to know and know why we vote to elect credible people, leaders responsible to foresee the future.”
Okpo-Ene urged the Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War campaign team to ensure that no one is left behind in the sensitization drive.
Another, Francis Okon said, “to end violence in the political cycle you need to educate people that do not understand the ethics of politics, you know politics is not a do-or-die affair, it’s a game of interest and understanding. Violence does not lead to candidates winning the election.”
Continuing he said, “what kills the youth is greed and if they’re up and doing, a reasonable and responsible person will not do violence, because after these people have been elected into those offices, you might not see them again. We need to tell them that they should go and vote for their conscience, anybody that wins is God because God put leaders there not to lead us astray but to lead us right.”
Eyo Asuquo Ekpeyong after commending the Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War campaign team advised his peers to vote for individuals they can attest to not in the name of a party.
Offiong Ekeng-Ita maintained that “the time has come to redeem the image of Calabar South, only through the ballot we can achieve it. Enough is enough, Calabar South has to stop being a battle field for politicians who don’t mean well for us.”
Likewise, Liberty Silva, Efa Eyo, and Michael Mmakara Eyo-Ita said the visit is timely and promised to take the message to their respective wards.
The Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War campaign is implemented by FACE Initiative in the South-South geo-political zone of the country.