From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
As 2023 election activities draw closer, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has joined forces with the Passion for Peace Initiative (PPI) to champion a campaign for peaceful Nigeria ahead of political activities.
Director General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, who addressed a joint press conference in Abuja, on Wednesday, explained that the campaign tilted “One Voice Nigeria Project”, will afford NOA and its partners, particularly PPI, the opportunity to educate, sensitize and enlighten Nigerians on the need to participate in peace building processes in Nigeria.
With the 2023 general elections fast approaching, he asked Nigerians to expect increase in hate speeches, discordant tunes and voices of some individuals who would want to distract the efforts of deepening democracy, expanding political space and bringing inclusive governance through free, fair and credible elections to produce accepted leadership.
He said: “Our dear country has been severely plagued in recent years with sectional and divisive sentiments fueled by rhetoric and innuendoes that deliberately played up our fault lines and pitch us against each other.
“Our nation and collective brotherhood have been threatened by these centrifugal forces that thrive on fake news and hate speeches, and prey predominantly on our youths which constitute the larger percentage of our population.
“As the 2023 general elections approach, it is not unusual to see a spike in the use of such diverse narratives in our society, especially in the social and conventional media. However, it’s important to note that for over 60 years, we, as a people, have continued to surmount challenging obstacles to our nationhood, including the forces of division.
“We have come to appreciate the beauty of our diversity as a gift and a tool that can foster national unity and progress. Although those who seek to divide us seem to be relentless, but we remain resolute in our collective desire for a stronger, more virile nation that embodies the Nigeria of our dreams.
“To save our country from consequences that can result from a lack of cohesion, it is imperative for all well-meaning Nigerians to rise to the task of defending Nigeria’s unity and upholding her honor and glory. Every single Nigerian must realize and solemnly accept responsibility as a critical stakeholder in the Nigerian project.”
The Executive Director, PPI, George Lekan Jimoh, in his remarks explained that “One Voice Nigeria Project” was conceived to amplify voices to the ongoing abnormalities in the country, and also to remind leaders and youths of the toil and sacrifices of the founding fathers of Nigeria and the duty to keep Nigeria united, strong, viable and secured.
He said the objective of the project was to ramp up sensitization and orientation of Nigerians on the need to speak together with one voice against the things and people that desire to tear us apart.
He added that the project will leverage various platforms of NOA, including programs and social media platforms, to disseminate messages of peace, unity and patriotism to Nigerians, with a view to galvanizing them into one collective voice for national peace and progress.
“To this end, we would engage the youths to adopt a peace-promoting disposition in all conversations about the nation. At the end, we expect to see 2023 electioneering campaigns that are devoid of the unhealthy, divisive and hate-filled narratives that characterized previous elections,” he said.