It has been stressed that free and fair elections are key tenets of a democratic system of governance which presents citizens’ access to participation in self-rule.
The assertion was made by the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chief Tony Ojukwu in his opening address at the Town Hall meeting organized for gubernatorial candidates of political parties in Bauchi state, held at the Development Exchange Centre (DEC) Bauchi.
Tony Ojukwu stressed that the right to participate in the governance process, including voting and standing for election, is central to a democratic government.
He however urged gubernatorial candidates contesting in the 2023 general elections to promote issues-based campaigns that will defend the human rights of the Nigerian people.
The Executive Secretary also said that the election should be a time of critical self-reflection in commitment to the social contract of democracy and achievement of human rights.
He added that the Commission has the mandate to protect and promote the human rights of every person in Nigeria in line with the human rights provided under the constitution.
Tony Ojukwu who was represented by the Senior Human Rights Adviser to the Commission, Hillary Ogbunnah, stated that the Town Hall meeting is a non-partisan one and there will be no endorsement of any candidate or evaluation of performance.
According to him, “The Commission and our partners are using this platform to develop a value system that places human rights as a key element in our electoral process and democracy.”
He stressed that “Free and fair elections are key tenets of a democratic system of governance. The right to participate in the governance process, including voting and standing for election, is central to a democracy.”
“Elections are germane in creating an enabling environment for the fulfilment of human rights. The Commission and United Nations System as gatekeepers of human rights have decided to the human rights message to political parties and candidates contesting the Presidential and gubernatorial elections as the future leaders to discuss the place of human rights in a democracy and as a common standard of political commitment which every leader should sign onto” he said
Tony Ojukwu said that Bauchi State is part of the 18 states the commission that is holding the town hall for the guber candidates, stressing that the event was a non-partisan one and there would be no endorsement of any candidate or evaluation of performance, but to develop a value system that places human rights as a key element in electoral process and democracy,
Gubernatorial candidates present at the event were that of the People Redemption Party (PRP), Barrister Umar Faruk Ahmed and Amb. Khalid Arewa of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
Gubernatorial candidates of the African Action Congress (AAC) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) were represented by their state party Chairmen, Umar Abubakar and Hon. Hassan Haruna respectively.
On the other hand, the incumbent Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Air Marshall Sadique Baba Abubakar (Rtd) were conspicuously absent from the Town Hall meeting neither were they represented.
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