Guber Poll: ICPC warns youths against vote buying, violence in Kogi

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Youths in Kogi State have been warned to desist from vote buying and violence before, during and after the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

The Resident Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC), Ulu James Okoro gave the warning on Wednesday at a Kogi Youth town hall meeting, where the Charter of Demand by Kogi youths was also presented to gubernatorial candidates in the state.

Represented by the agency’s Principal Superintendent of Operations, Sikpi Nathaniel, the Resident Anti-Corruption Commissioner noted that the ICPC, pursuant to its mandate of eradicating corruption in the country will be fully involved in curbing electoral corruption in the forthcoming elections.

“You may be aware that operatives of the Commission with other security agencies were on ground to monitor vote buying and voter suppression in the last election.

“In the process, arrests were made and their biometrics were taken and sent to the National Control Centre for further action.

“We promise that we will again deploy all available resources to monitor all forms of corrupt practices during the November 11 governorship elections. Be a good Kogite, be patriotic and distance yourselves from any electoral malfeasance and have your peace of mind.

Okoro, however, admonished youths in Kogi to eschew violence and do away with sentiments while making a choice on who should govern them for the next four years.

The ICPC boss said, “As at 25th August, 2022, Nigeria’s population was estimated at 217,079,601, with the youths accounting for 70 percent of the 217 million, which stood at 151 million.

”42 percent of the 70 percent are under the age of 15. With this data, one can boldly say that Nigeria’s economic growth or doom, relies solely on the youth population. The youths, if left unskilled, and unproductive, will cause a great burden for the society which is already happening in different ways across geopolitical zones.

“Out of the 1.8 million youth population in Kogi State, only a very negligible proportion are meaningfully engaged. The Youth Development Commission Bill was therefore pre-meditated to address the drivers of youth restiveness and violent extremism as a result of idleness, unproductivity and underutilization of human resources which bedevil the young population within the state.

“The above report indicates that as at 2019, Kogi State has over 1.8 million youth population which are mostly idle and underutilized. With this population and the right strategy which you are adopting in my opinion, you can determine your fate and the political fate of the state in the forthcoming governorship elections”.

Adding his voice, the Kogi State Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp, (NSCDC), who was represented by DCC Ahmadu Salifu, condemned the destruction of communication mast by youths in some parts of Kogi State to disrupt the successful transmission of election results.

“NSCDC has taken note of this ugly incident that happened in Igalamela and some other parts of Kogi during the last general election. Such, I can assure the electorate that this will be averted. Our men will be on ground to ensure that critical infrastructures are protected to ensure a smooth electioneering process”.

On his part, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kogi State, Gabriel Longpet, who was represented by HOD, Voter Education, Haruna Sule, stated that the electoral body is fully prepared for the forthcoming off-cycle election.

While noting that the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) will end on 9th October 2023, the INEC REC stated further that the Commission has received all non-sensitive materials and had since distributed it across the 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State.=

Earlier, the convener of the event who doubles as the Executive Director, Lugard Youth Development and Empowerment Initiative, Okutepa Aminu, Director of Africa, operation, MacArthur foundation, Dr Kole Shettima, and representative of Leap Africa, Afolabi Kamald all stressed the need to curtail fake news, hate speech and violence, before, during and after the Governorship election.