A former Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, Prof. Tonnie Iredia, on Monday accused political parties and politicians of causing violence because of their desperation to win elections.
Iredia, who is also a former Director-General of Nigeria Television Authority, said this at the National Stakeholders Dialogue for Peaceful and Violence-Free 2019 General Elections, which was organised by NOA in Abuja.
He expressed displeasure at the absence of politicians and party representatives at the event.
Iredia said a political event which was shunned by politicians would not produce the desired result because they (politicians) were the focus of the discussion.
He also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct free, fair and credible elections to ensure peace.
He said, “What I don’t understand is why almost everybody invited to this peace discussion is represented; but those who should make sure that this peace is attained are not here. We are going to be talking to their representatives.
“Some people might get the opposite of what we said here. I am particularly disheartened that the main persons that are responsible for violence are not here; the political parties. Who are we talking to?
“If we are going to attain peace in 2019, those who are stopping peace are the people we should be talking to; they are the political parties, the politicians. They are responsible for violence in the country.
“They may not do it personally, but they contract people to do it. They are the ones who are desperate to win elections with whatever reason.”
The Director-General of NOA, Garba Abari, later told journalists that the agency’s mobilisation officers would engage politicians on the need to give peace a chance during and after the elections.
He said, “In a few days, our mobilisation officers in all local government areas will engage critical stakeholders; the political parties and politicians on peace discussion.
“Whether they are here or not, we will go to them and talk to them because they are the ones who are directly or indirectly promoting violence.
“We are all witnesses to the fact that some of our previous elections were characterised by violence. The need for a reversal of this trend cannot be over emphasised, especially in the face of instances of pre-election violence that have been witnessed in places like Lagos and Taraba states in recent times.
“The reports we are getting from our field officers indicate possible flashpoints in states like Enugu, Rivers, Imo, Ogun and Plateau states.”