Kofi Annan Cautions Nigerian Politicians On Post-Election Violence

By Adedayo Ogunleye, Abuja

 Former Secretary General of the United Nations, UN, Kofi Annan, on Tuesday, charged Nigerian politicians to eschew acts that may lead to violence during and after the general elections in February.

Annan, who met with representatives of Nigerian civil society groups in Abuja said that Africa’s future lies in the hands of Nigeria and the success or failure of the February elections will reflect on Africa as a whole.

Speaking at a round table organised by the Nigerian civil society groups under the aegis of Situation Room, Annan, who gave the keynote address, stated that a vibrant and engaged civil society was indispensable for a strong democracy, while expressing dissatisfaction with the way democracies were run in most African nations.

The former UN Secretary-General, who is chairman of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, presented the findings and recommendations of its report, Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide.

Stating that politics is too important to be left in the hands of politicians alone,  Annan informed his audience that he established the Global Commission to address the challenges being faced by democracies across the world.

“I set up the Global Commission in 2011 because of a paradox that I observed. Even as elections have become a global norm – just about every country now organises regular elections – democracy itself is increasingly called into question,” he observed.

Pressing on, he stated: “This is not just a problem on our continent. Around the world, voter participation and trust in politics and politicians to change people’s lives for the better are at an all-time low. We have had further demonstrations of this trend in 2014 in the USA and Europe.”






     

     

    Urging Nigerian politicians to eschew selfish interests and utterances that could incite violence, he said democracy remains man’s best option, even though fraught with challenges.

    “Democracy allows transfers of power to happen peacefully through institutional mechanisms rather than through violent conflict. Legitimate elections are, therefore, the cornerstone of a true democracy, hence their importance.”

    Other speakers at the roundtable identified corruption and conducts of politicians as some of the factors responsible for violence during past elections.

    Some speakers recommended that penalties such as visa-revocations could be levied against politicians who compromise the peace of the country or incite violence during and after the elections for selfish political interests.

     

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