Electoral Transformation in Kogi State
The Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) in Idah and Lokoja diocese, via suppport from the Good Governance Program has made a huge impact in entrenching sound, credible and peaceful elections in Kog State
In November 2014, ahead of the 2015 General Elections, a JDPC team of Idah and Lokoja dioceses with 3 influential citizens carried out advocacy visits to INEC, the Police, Civil Defence and the political parties. The focus was citizens sensitization and participation towards the 2015 General Elections and 2016 Gubernatorial Elections.
On the 9th of December, 2014, the INEC Local Government Area Coordinator was interviewed and the focus was on citizens’ particiation in the electoral process. Following this, the interview document titled ‘Citizens’ Participation’ was produced and copies distributed to over 200 persons during the Good Governance week.
To increase sensitization efforts, the Nexus Newsletter (bearing articles on citizens’ participation in the electoral process) was published and 1,000 copies widely distributed. In the same vein, civic education sessions (through special address to Catholic faithfuls after mass) were conducted in 20 selected parishes in the state.
Outcome and impact
JDPC was invited to participate in all INEC and Police briefings on the build up to the 2015 general elections in the state
JDPC is now one of INEC’s strong partners and receives invitations to participate in most INEC activities.
Several calls for peaceful elections in the state were made by prominent leaders in the state including:
(i) The Bishops of Idah and Lokoja Dioceses;
(ii) The Attah of Igala and Onu Ibaji;
(iii) The Imam of the Lokoja Okene, Kabbah and Idah central mosques.
These further strengthened voter awareness and interest in the electoral process.
In response to the various calls, the government of Kogi State set up a community peace initiative involving the law enforcement agencies and the communities to work towards peaceful election in 2015.
The overall results have been very impressive: the 2015 general election in Kogi State was very peaceful; the Number of invalid votes in the Polling Units under Lokoja LGA reduced remarkably to 2481 as compared to over 5000 in the 2011 general elections.