The Justice, Development and Peace Initiative (JDPI), Ekiti Council of Elders (ECE), and Nigeria Union Of Journalists (NUJ) Ekiti State Council have partnered to hold politicians in the state accountable.
Rev. Father Emmanuel Akingbade, National Coordinator, JDPI, said on Wednesday in Ado Ekiti that they were partnering to organize a political debate to enable electorate hold leaders accountable.
According to Akingbade the programme is tagged “Manifestation of Agreement with the people of Ekiti State”.
He said that debate would enable candidates contesting for positions on the platform of various political parties to present their manifestoes to the general public.
According to him, the programme, which is also the 4th edition will enable journalists and other invited guests to ask candidates their plans before being elected.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the exercise scheduled for June 4, at the Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre, Ado Ekiti, is coming ahead of the June 18, gubernatorial election in Ekiti.
Akingbade added that the objectives of the programme was in conformity with the 1999 Constitution amended sections 221 and 224.
It stated that, “any candidate contesting an election must be sponsored by a political party which its aims and objectives must conform to the fundamental objectives of the said constitution and this will enable the general public hold such personality responsible and accountable.”
He said in this regard political debates were considered a key part of campaign outreach in many democracies currently.
“Particularly, in contexts where voters have limited information on candidates, publicising debates may impact electoral outcomes.
“Debates can reveal information about candidates’ policy positions, their qualifications and competence, and their personalities,” he said.
He said that giving voters access to information through debates between rival candidates can significantly improve their knowledge and increase ensure politician accountability.
The JDPI coordinator said the group was partnering the Ekiti Council of Elders and the NUJ this time to achieve its purpose of holding political parties and their candidates true to their words.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Ekiti Council of Elders, Prof. Joseph Oluwasanmi, said debates among competing electoral candidates had become a campaign centerpiece in elections globally.
He said debates usually address issues not persons, religion or ethnicity as it will also promote political tolerance, constructive dialogue and service to the people.
“During a debate, a candidate’s statements, policy positions and campaign promises become part of the public record.
“Once winning candidates take office, civic groups and the media can hold them accountable by citing transcripts or press coverage of debates,” he said.
Oluwasanmi said it had become imperative for all heads of security agencies to neutralise all forms of security threats bedeviling the country to avail the electorate in Ekiti opportunities to exercise their franchise.
He noted that if the security agencies could ensure neutrality and conduct themselves in most professional manners, while the politicians play.
He said free and fair game would create confidence in the system and save the state from any looming storm ahead.
Oluwasanmi thanked the NUJ members for their cooperation and expressed optimism for a wide publicity of the programme.(NAN)