ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has called for the active participation of women, youths and Persons Living with Disabilities (PWD) in the 2019 general elections.

Mrs Ene Obi, Country Director, AAN, made this call in Abuja on Thursday at the Dissemination Meeting on Strengthening Citizens’ Engagement in Electoral Process (SCEEP).

Obi said that SCEEP was a project that aimed at responding to the growing need to strengthen the inclusion of citizens in the electoral process, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.

She said that the project, implemented by ActionAid and BBC Media Trust, yielded results through extensive mobilisation of Nigerians in the 2015 general elections.

According to her, elections are not an end in itself; it lays the framework for the social contract between the people and their elected leaders and ensures leaders are held accountable.

“This means that at all times citizens must stay engaged to ensure accountability and responsiveness in governance.

“As part of its efforts in ensuring this, the project used the ActionAid’s reflection and action methodology to develop Community Development Charters (CDC) in 180 communities.

Obi further noted that the CDC had also provided the impetus for communities to ensure service delivery and hold leaders and institutions accountable.

She also said that the CDC had been used as an agenda setting tools in various Local Government elections engaging citizens in the build up to the 2019 elections.

“Citizens have right to be part of the process through which leaders emerge and as part of our work, we have seen the emergence of platforms at the sub-national levels.

“This will drive a functional relationship between the people and the managers of electoral process, supporting and working with agencies including Independent National and State Independent Electoral Commissions, the National Orientation Agency, the Police and other security agencies.

She added that a lot had changed in the country’s socio-economic and political landscape after the 2015 elections with strong implication for the 2019 general elections.

She, therefore, said that the possibilities and gains of an electoral process would be fully harnessed when citizens were integrated in the electoral processes.

Obi, however, promised support for the inclusion of PWDs, young people and women in the 2019 general elections, saying their exclusion was key challenge highlighted by the SCEEP target groups in 2015 post-election audit.

Earlier, Dr Jummai Ajijola, Board Chairperson, AAN, said the SCEEP campaign would focus on supporting grassroots effort in deepening democratic practice.

She commended the support received from the Department for International Development (DFID) toward the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Also, Mr Oliver Blake, Head of Governance and Social Development, DFID, pledged to strengthen support for ActionAid, Federal Government and other organisations involved in the electoral process.

Blake also promised to assist in putting in place models and ways of working that would improve the electoral process in the country.

Rilwan Abdullahi, National President, National Association of Persons with Disability, called on political parties and electoral management bodies to create the space for PWD.

He was optimistic that the 2019 elections would consider PWD in electoral process because the SCEEP project had encouraged political parties, who had started embracing PWD in their processes.

Dr Tafida Abubakar-Ila, the Sarkin Rano of Kano, also pledged the readiness of traditional institutions toward encouraging women, youths and PWD to be engaged in the 2019 general elections.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the SCEEP project was supported by DFID aimed at mobilizing citizens, especially women, youths and PWD to participate and influence the electoral process.

It is also aimed at promoting the emergence of politically better informed electorate while promoting inclusiveness in the Nigerian electoral system.

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