by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
The Birnin Gwari Emirate Progressive Union (BEPU), in Kaduna, has called on constituted authorities and relevant stakeholders to negotiate with terrorist groups, if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is to conduct successful election in the area, ahead of 2023 general elections.
In a statement issued by Chairman of the union, Ishaq Usman Kasai, and made available to newsmen in Kaduna, noted thus: “Our major concern is our people, including the internally displaced persons (IDPs) – how they will be given the opportunity to exercise their franchise at their respective locations without any fear or intimidation.
“At this point, we wish to commend the effort made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in relocating some of the Poling Units (PUs) from the sacked communities to various points where respective eligible voters are relocated and are residing, including the IDPs. This will, indeed, go a long way in providing them with the opportunity to exercise their franchise.”
However, he stated that, “The second issue is on facilitating the movement of Election Officials and materials on the Election Day to various units in the Local Government, especially to areas where security problems are high, such as the Eastern and Western parts of the Local Government.
“There are eleven (11) political wards in Birnin-Gwari, and ten (10) of these wards are facing security challenges that, if measures are not proactively taken will hinder the election processes.
“We are aware of the arrangements being made locally to address these challenges, especially by possibly establishing contact with the respective terrorist groups in the most hostile areas, in order to allow successful conduct of the 2023 elections in the area.
“It is noted that, this same approach was adopted successfully during the Census Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) that took place recently where, with the permission of the bandits, all the areas were visited by the Census functionaries and demarcated.
“We, therefore, observe that, based on experience, only local arrangements through diplomatic means in form of reaching to these terrorist groups for negotiation, diplomatically, could allow the 2023 elections to hold successfully in about ten (10) political Wards with hundreds of Poling Units (PU) in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area.
“For now, due to security problem, INEC has already cancelled one PU in Gayam Ward of the LG. This cancelled PU is among the 240 PUs recently cancelled by INEC in Nigeria due to high security threat.
“We are, therefore, advising the authorities to engage relevant stakeholders, especially community leaders, in all arrangements for success of carrying out 2023 general elections in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area.
“It is a known fact that, Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State is facing security challenge that is affecting many aspects of its development, including transportation, farming, education, economy, business, among others, where about one hundred (100) communities are sacked and about fifty thousand (50,000) persons rendered internally displaced (IDPs) across various communities,” the statement declared.