By Patrick Obia and Etido Okon
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Unified Commercial Taxi/Buses/Mini Bus Drivers Association in Cross River State have pledged total support for violence-free 2023 general elections, saying that the future can no longer be mortgaged.
In a separate advocacy visit, they both agreed that the forthcoming general election might be one of a kind and that all must pay attention to it.
At the NDLEA headquarters in Calabar, the Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War Technical Committee members were received by the Deputy State Commander and Deputy State Commander of Operations and Intelligence.
Welcoming their guests, the Deputy State Commander, Mrs. Mercy Bassey said their office is open for more collaboration aimed at bettering society.
According to her, “You are welcome, God will help us, Nigeria will be better, come 2023 will be better.”
On his part, Deputy State Commander and Deputy State Commander of Operations and Intelligence, Mr. Oseni I. A. thumbed up the initiative maintaining that “You are working for us, a drug-free society is what we all want.”
He maintained that globally it has been established that there is a link between crime and drugs which makes it pertinent for NDLEA to “identify hot spots and raid them to reduce if not eliminate them.”
Urging politicians to live up to expectations he said, “We will try our best but politicians should play politics without bitterness, that’s what fuels violence.”
Committing to the project he said, “We are ready to partner with you, we will assist you in any way we can.”
Reiterating the harmful effect of drugs he added, “the problem is not the boys but the kingpins,” warning that, “we appeal to our leaders, the worst is the post, not the pre. Don’t instigate a crisis.”
Also, the State Chairman of the Unified Commercial Taxi/Buses/Mini Drivers Association, Pastor Thomas Effiong pledged the commitment of his members while noting that all is not well in the country.
Lamenting about the state of things he said, “All of us know that Nigeria is at a cross-road now and the situation we have found ourselves in is between the devil and the deep blue sea. The reason why I’m saying this is that the engine oil we use to buy N3,500 is now at about N8, 000, even a blind man can see the cost of fuel and so many others and we can’t pretend as if all is well,” he inferred.”
The Chairman lauded the efforts of the implementing NGO – FACE Initiative which he said is fighting a just course for a better Cross River and Nigeria, therefore, it will be improper for the Association not to partner and give their full support.
According to him, “With the things our drivers and Nigerians are facing, it will be ignorance on our part not to partner with the Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War campaign because we know the vision you are looking at is to have a better State and country.
“One thing I will assure you of under my government is I will give whatever support under our reach; if you seek partnership, you will have it. We all know the mess we have found ourselves in today; we can’t continue to mortgage our destiny and that of our children.”
He warned politicians that the 2023 general elections would not be business as usual.
In both visits, the Team Led of the Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War campaign in Cross River State, Pastor Peter Lawrence said it is pertinent to pay the visit to the Association and NDLEA because drivers play critical roles before, during, and after elections – conveying election materials and electorates while NDLEA is critical in having a society with a sane mind.
He said the goal of the Vote Not Fight campaign is to deepen the participation of youths and also try to ensure there is no violence and if there should be, it should be at a reduced rate.
Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War campaign is being implemented in the south-south geopolitical zone by FACE Initiative.