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How The Edo Civil Society Situation Room Is Deepening Genuine Democratic Process, By Igbotako Nowinta

IT is interesting to know that the Edo Civil Society Situation Room has displayed fierce determination in reaching out to the general public, crusading tenaciously a more inclusive, open, transparent and sustainable process of democratic engagement in Edo State.This civil society organizations is powered by the Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ); Conference of Non – Governmental Organizations (CONGOS), Edo State; Justice Development & Peace Centre (JDPC) Benin, Uromi Justice Development, Peace and Caritas Initiative (Uromi JDPC), and the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), is acting as a moral and political instructor, and maintaining a fundamental sense of purpose, especially as the September 21st, 2024, Governorship Election is fast approaching in Edo State.
With formidable characters like Rev. David Ugolor, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, Catholic Archbishop of Benin Archdiocese, Father Benedict Onwugbenu, Mrs Sabina Idowu – Osehobo, Mrs Abiola Daisy Igaga, Anne Ojiugo, Comrade Leo Atakpu, Mr. Innocent Edemhanria etc, the Situation Room no doubt is fashioning out a fascinating democratic selling point that will guarantee a people/issues based smooth electioneering campaign, which would ultimately lead to the emergence of a truly universal people’s choice. This is how the Edo Civil Society Situation Room has created a brand new strategy in deepening genuine democratic process in Edo State”

Something illuminating and fascinating concerning the September 21st, 2024, Edo State Governorship election, occured in Edo State, on the 6th of June, 2024.

Members of civil society organizations (CSOs) congregating under the name of Edo Civil Society Situation Room, paid an advocacy visit to the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Benin Zonal Office, where they were welcomed by Phil Obanor, the Zonal Director.
During the very successful media outreach the Edo Civil Society Situation Room was very clear about the mission of the organization. The Chairperson of the organization, Abiola Daisy Igaga (Mrs) said they were in Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Benin, to seek collaboration of the media outfit to assist in amplifying the voice of the people of Edo State, so that the citizens could hold the political actors accountable, keep them enlightened on their rights, even as the Edo State Governorship election is already scheduled to hold on September 21st, 2024.
Phil Obanor, the Zonal Director, NTA Benin Zonal Office, who was very elated with the visitors, thanked the group for their patriotic and timely advocacy visit, and pledged the readiness of the media outfit to do the needful. Phil Obanor however, advised that the campaign for good governance in Edo State should not end with the forth coming gubernatorial election in Edo State.

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It is clear that the Edo State Civil Society Situation Room’s historic advocacy visit to the Nigeria Television Authority, Benin Zonal Office, was one of the spirited efforts the organization has made recently, and still yearning to do more to bring its campaign of enhancing coordination, promoting conversations around creating a most favourable democratic atmosphere, maintaining peace, stability and common interests, towards the 2024 governorship elections in Edo State.

For me the message the Situation Room is sending pointedly across to all stakeholders is that, we must find a space in our fundamental civic duty, to embrace their “rescue plan” and we must be resolute to collectively turn things around in our different corners within the democratic landscape in Edo State.

In trying to change perceptions and create path ways, in the name of free, fair and credible elections in Edo State, the significant influence of the media is key, hence this interventional piece by Nigeria Good Governance Research Centre.
it is therefore imperative to know deeper about the aims and objectives of the Edo State Civil Society Situation Room, in deepening trust and cooperation, to unlock transformative opportunities, given the significance of the electioneering process in the democratic system of our society.

Because foundation members of the Edo Civil Society Situation Room attached great importance to their collective pet project, a courtesy visit was made to Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, the Catholic Archbishop of Benin Archdiocese, on May 7th, 2024, who profusely gave his blessings via prayers.

On May 8th, 2024, the Edo State Civil Society Situation Room was unveiled with the following bold declarations:
“It is in this context that Edo State Civil Society Situation Room, articulate stakeholders collaboration that will enrich data collection, the synthesis of processes, and resolving the overlaps that is conveyed in the diversity of our state and country in religion, ethnicity and culture. Therefore, Edo State Civil Society Situation Room, is focused at a holistic approach that will effectively respond to the diverse points which underpins our present contradictions in evolving a genuine democratic process.

“We hold that democracy and development trend on common syntax and are symbiotic. Where the democratic process is impaired, it alters the delivery of the political system. Where the democratic process is impaired, harmony and suspicion becomes endemic in its final outcome. Where suspicion is prevalent and harmony is skewed, development cannot have a wholesome expression.
“Beyond election day monitoring activities, therefore, the Situation Room, will be active in deepening pious electoral conduct as an expression of good citizenship and patriotism. In other words, we must affect the psychology of our people behaviourally and in attitudinal self-configuration. Knowing that this requires a lot of effort, we place evolving a working relationship with the media as primary. The media has a lot to give in deepening our enlightenment and civic education programmes.

“Like we have said previously, we must give serious attention to improving upon the content of our political office holders. This calls for deepening the consciousness of our political leaders on responsible and responsive leadership delivery. When our political office holders, who include our elected representatives, understands the innards of being a responsible leader and a responsive leader, it will guide their relationship with the power game and engender in them disposition to good leadership. More so, when they know that the electorate – ditto – the citizenry have a good understanding of what they expect from their political leaders, a sense of caution will guide the disposition of the political elites.

“We will focus on Edo 2024 governorship election. Pursuant to that, we are building a wide civil society window that will ensure that the electoral process appropriately delivers a people centred and people focused electoral report. We will hold sessions with the Independent National Electoral Commission to strengthen the organisation in neutrality, due process and diligence, insistence on the secrecy of the ballot, mitigating electoral violence, votes selling and buying, and appropriate conduct on the part of electoral officers. We will maintain a liaison with the security agencies in improving upon security expectations pre, during and post-election”.
The aim of the Edo State Civil Society Situation room for the 2024 Governorship election is to mobilise CSOs and citizens alike to participate actively in the electoral process.

Edo State CSOs Situation Room has the following objectives:
1. To engage key stakeholders to wit; Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), all security agencies, political parties, candidates, traditional and religious leaders and media on issues relating to the election.
2. To raise awareness about political parties manifestoes before the elections
3. To empower voters with comprehensive information to make well-informed choices during the forthcoming governorship election.
4. To facilitate civic engagement and participation in the electoral process among Edo State citizens.
It is interesting to know that the Edo Civil Society Situation Room has displayed fierce determination in reaching out to the general public, crusading tenaciously a more inclusive, open, transparent and sustainable process of democratic engagement in Edo State.This civil society organizations powered by the Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ); Conference of Non – Governmental Organizations (CONGOS), Edo State; Justice Development & Peace Centre (JDPC) Benin, Uromi Justice Development, Peace and Caritas Initiative (Uromi JDPC), and the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), is acting as a moral and political instructor, and maintaining a fundamental sense of purpose, especially as the September 21st, 2024, Governorship Election is fast approaching in Edo State.
With formidable characters like Rev. David Ugolor, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, Catholic Archbishop of Benin Archdiocese, Father Benedict Onwugbenu, Mrs Sabina Idowu – Osehobo, Mrs Abiola Daisy Igaga, Anne Ojiugo, Comrade Leo Atakpu, Mr. Innocent Edemhanria, etc, the Situation Room no doubt is fashioning out a fascinating democratic selling point that will guarantee a people/issues based smooth electioneering campaign, which would ultimately lead to the emergence of a truly universal people’s choice. This is how the Edo Civil Society Situation Room has created a brand new strategy in deepening genuine democratic process in Edo State.
Finally, given the notorious lack of level playing field we have seen recklessly displayed during elections in Edo State, where most people’s oriented and cerebral candidates often do not translate into functioning pragmatic political representatives, where the rule books by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is tucked away behind curtains of godfatherism, thuggery, premeditated assassinations, falsification of electoral materials cum numbers etc, the Edo Civil Society Situation Room, is hereby encouraged to continue vigorously to forge fresh chapters, improve the capabilities and levels of positive joint responses by the electorates, to challenges and threats in our endangered electioneering and democratic space.

Nowinta Igbotako, is a serial author, media/research consultant, and an international conflict resolution expert @ Nigeria Good Governance Research Centre: nowintaigbotako@gmail.com.

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