NGO intensifies campaign against electoral violence, vote buying in Bayelsa

The MacJim Foundation, a Niger Delta-based non-governmental organisation, has intensified its campaign against electoral violence and vote buying and selling activities in Bayelsa State ahead of the February 16 and March 2, 2019 general election.

To this end, the NGO has held a town hall meeting in Yenagoa as part of its sensitisation series under the “Citizen Education Project for Credible and Peaceful Election in Bayelsa State” powered by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room.

At the event, presentations were made on “Flashpoints in the 2019 Elections and Mitigation Strategies”; “Mainstreaming Gender in the Electoral Process of Nigeria” and “Ethical and Human Rights Issues in Election Security: Brief Overview of Stakeholders’ Role.”

During the interactive session, some of the participants, who were drawn from Nembe, Ogbia, Yenagoa and Sagbama local government areas of the state, gave insights into how they participated in vote selling in the 2015 general election and the Bayelsa governorship polls.

They said it was like a bazaar by the major political parties involved, explaining that they collected financial reward after casting their votes “because you won’t see the candidate after elections, and they won’t do anything when they go into office”

They also said that in some instances fights erupted when money was being shared, resulting in injuries and disruption of the voting process.

Godson Jim-Dorgu, Executive Director, Mac-Jim Foundation, said the election sensitisation series were aimed at creating awareness among community people on the dangers of electoral violence, vote buying and selling to sustainable development.

He said, “We are trying to have peaceful elections. Particularly, coming from 1999 till date, Bayelsa has experienced an increasing level of violence and conflict and we felt it was high time we engaged not only the electorate but the communities, and begin to tell them (participants) what their rights and roles are and how they can come together to mitigate electoral violence.”

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