Youngstars Development Initiative in collaboration with the New Generation Girls and Women Development Initiative (NIGAWD), Inspiration Care Centre, Kids and Teens Resource Centre, Great Minders Initiative and Centre for Social Reconditioning and Development, organizes a 3-day retreat in Ado-Ekiti for Local Government Areas Coordinators and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Ekiti state ahead of the state gubernatorial election scheduled to hold on 14th July, 2018.

The 3 day retreat which was held at Delight Hotel and Suites, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, with the theme, “Vote Not Fight Partners Retreat on Voter Education and Get Out the Youth Vote Campaign”, had in attendance participants drawn from all the 16 Local Government Areas of Ekiti state.

According to Youngstars Foundation, Head of Programs, who is also the Project Lead for the Vote Not Fight Campaign, Mr. Sunday Adaje, the retreat was organized with the aim of transferring civic voter education and basic advocacy skills to state coordinators for the implementation of the Vote Not Fight: Election No Be War Campaign in the state.

Speaking at the event, the Ekiti Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Professor Abdul Ganiyu Raji, described the event as apt, saying the electoral body would give the needed support for the Vote Not Fight: Election No Be War campaign to achieve its goals before, during and after the election. He remarked that gone are the days when politicians would orchestrate violence in some areas with a view to cancel the results of the poll stressing that such would no longer happen.

“If anyone causes violence in any area, INEC will organize a re-run and we shall deploy full security”, he stressed.

On his part, the representative of Ekiti State Commissioner of Police, Edeh Ayuba, said the command is fully prepared for the poll. He said some politicians have attempted to test the will of the command during the botched governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but failed. He also expressed concern over the fact that 80% of the inmates in Nigerian prisons were youths.

Present at the event was the Country Director, National Democratic Institute, Mr. Aubrey McCutcheon, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Comrade Rotimi Ojomoyela, State Director, National Orientation Agency, Mr. Dayo Famosaya, amongst others.

Participants were trained on various topics, including; Introduction to Advocacy and Organizing, Understanding Election Day Processes and Procedures, Overview of Nigeria’s Electoral Legal Framework, Issue Framing, Messaging and Communication Strategies, Developing Benchmarks for Inclusion and Diversity for the campaign and Roles and Responsibilities of Vote Not Fight Coordinators, amongst others.

Some of the key issues raised during the retreat include vote buying, voter intimidation and fear of attack on voters. At the end of the training, the coordinators developed a 10-week implementation work plan for the Vote Not Fight campaign.