Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged traditional rulers in the country to canvass for peace ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Mr Osinbajo made the call on Monday at the opening of the 10th National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) in Abuja.
The event Themed ”Building a synergy towards free and fair credible and violence-free 2019 General Elections” had in attendance the Chairman of NCTRN and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar; and the Co-Chairman, the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunnwusi.
Also in attendance were the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Usman; the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi; the Olubadan of Ibadan, Saliu Adetunji; and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu.
Mr Osinbajo in his speech thanked the traditional rulers for their support. He said the role of the traditional rulers in an election season is essential.
”The role of your royal majesties and our traditional institutions is crucial for connecting the people of your kingdoms with the federal and state agencies responsible for the conduct of the elections,” Mr Osinbajo said.
He also said the traditional rulers have a role to play in assisting security agencies curb violence. He said the federal government would ensure that security agencies work with them.
”Given the activities of unscrupulous individuals and groups who use the election season to foment trouble and disrupt the electoral process, the role of the security agencies is crucial. But the backbone of effective security is quality local intelligence,” he said.
”The most trusted repository of local intelligence is, of course, the royal father in the domain. We will encourage the security agencies to work closely with you in this enormous task,” he added.
Mr Osinbajo also urged the traditional rulers to shun all violence and hate speech as it is designed to incite and provoke disturbances.
”I urge you all as traditional and spiritual heads of your communities to take up your responsibilities of guidance and counselling; to enlighten them on the need to shun all forms of animosity, aggression, conflicts, and violence before, during and after the elections, while mobilising them to participate, by voting for the candidates or parties of their choice at all levels, without fear of molestation, intimidation or harassment.”
Also, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar, said the traditional rulers are not rivals to the government but partners and stakeholders.
”We are not rivals to political leaders, we are partners in progress to the political leaders. We want to help them because they have the power to lead this country,” he said.
”So we should be seen as partners in progress, as stakeholders to lead this great country. None of us is wanting to take power from them. we would continue to do our best to the best of our duties and by his grace would continue to succeed.”
He said the council of traditional leaders is fully in support of the government.
”We are 100 per cent ready as an institution to give our support to ensure there is a free and fair election in this country and whoever wins would have our full support as we have one Nigeria.”
The Sultan urged the traditional rulers who are chancellors in different universities in the country to speak with the government on what they can contribute to ending the ongoing ASSU strike,
Mr Yakubu, in his speech, said the traditional rulers are the closest to the people at the grassroots.
”As the fathers of the people, being traditional and religious leaders in your various domains, you are the closest institution to the people at the grassroots,” he said.
”The timing of this meeting is very significant. The 2019 general election is around the corner, and there can be no better opportunity to help compare our message of general elections to the grassroots than through our royal majesties,” the INEC chief added.
He also urged the traditional rulers in the country to speak with the political actors to help curb the menace of hate speech in the country.
The Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, said traditional rulers have a role to play in ensuring a violence-free and fair election. He said they are the closest to the youth in their various kingdoms.
”it is important to take everything we have discussed here to our various domains. I can mention to you we are the closest to our people. We can easily pass the message across to our people and easily stabilise any tension that might want to arise.
”The youth have over 80 per cent of the voting demography. it is very important that they own the country and I can always stand for Nigeria youth. I believe at some point they would understand their strength and take ownership as the country belongs to them.
“It is key for us to relate well with them for us to have a free, stable and fair election,” he said.