"With this program, I have now seen the possibility of purposeful leadership in the Niger Delta in particular and Nigeria in general [...]
Elections in Nigeria are usually accompanied by violence and unrest consequently, every election season there is an increase in the number of deaths, kidnappings, destruction of public and private properties. PIND in partnership with Academic Associates PeaceWorks implemented a non-violent election project in three States in the Niger Delta – Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States. This project was aimed at sensitising the people to shun all forms of election violence and make the 2015 elections peaceful, free and fair.
To achieve this aim, we facilitated a training program for State and Local Government Coordinators designed to equip them with the needed skills to effectively discharge their responsibilities under the project. The intensive three-day training addressed topics such as Constructive engagement of youth at risk. Citizen reporting, Conflict management and transformation, Conflict sensitivity, Advocacy and lobbying, Formations of CSNs and organisation of Town Hall Meetings, Keeping participants safe etc. The training also featured top officers from the Nigerian Police Force who gave presentations on how the coordinators can work with the security agencies to curb violence during the conduct of the 2015 elections and journalists who discussed how they can work with the media for nonviolent elections.
Following the training, the coordinators organised Community Stakeholders Networks (CSN) in each of their LGAs comprising of traditional councils, religious leaders, women groups, opinion leaders, youth groups, (especially the ex-militants), representatives of the Nigeria Police and State Security Service, and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). These CSN members were taught basic capacity building skills such as correct election procedure, conflict analysis and management, conflict sensitivity, and advocacy on a weekly basis.
The CSNs assisted with voter education and organised Town Hall Meetings with different stakeholders in their various local governments to fashion out ways to achieve non-violent elections in their communities before, during and after the elections. For instance, CSN members and Coordinators for Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa state paid an advocacy visit to the leadership and members of the Okada riders union in Brass and took the Non-Violent Elections campaign to the members of the union. They also formed Early Warning and Early Response Systems at a community level as a platform for identifying brewing political and election-related crisis and inform early intervention. By having members of INEC, the police and SSS working together with civil society members in the CSNs, trust is built and potential problems can be dealt with immediately. The security services can detect and respond to early warning signs faster, thereby encouraging synergy and collaborative efforts among the security agencies, the electoral body (INEC) and civil society.
To further drive the non-violent election campaign, we created the shun wahala platform to network with Nigerians to build grassroots support and synergy against violence in the 2015 elections. Pre and post elections updates and updates on all activities carried out under this project were published on the platform.
"... LEAD’s most impressive achievement is its bringing together communities and their governments to improve public service delivery.[...]