As the 2019 general elections draw nearer, traditional rulers from the South-South and South-East geo-political zones have expressed concerns over the safety and security of their communities before, during and after the 2019 polls. They also drew a roadmap for a free, fair and violence free exercise.
This followed the second consultation meeting of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN), South-South and South-East Chapter in Benin City, Edo State.
The monarchs agreed that if the local communities were safe and secure, then the whole country would be safe.
While speaking at the meeting, convener of the meeting, Ebere Emere Okori, Eleme of Eleme Kingdom, Rivers State, His Highness Appolus Chu, said the meeting was a platform for traditional rulers from the South-South and South-East regions to come together and speak with one voice on policies that would serve the best interest of the country.
His words: "For today's consultation, the main issue is to looking at ways of ensuring a violence-free general elections next year. Besides, we will also look at other areas of common interest and grounds where the traditional rulers from the Southern part of Nigeria would come together and rub minds.
"We have touched the area of violence free election which is the theme of this meeting and we have touched other areas of collaborations amongst our various communities.
"The whole essence is to ensure that traditional rulers rise up to their responsibilities to ensure that things go the right way during the forthcoming general elections."
He called on government and other stakeholders to provide a peaceful environment for people to vote during the elections and also urged individuals in their various communities to conduct themselves properly during the exercise.
Speaking Chairman of the Second Consultation Meeting of the Southern monarchs and Mingi XII Amanayanabo of Nembe Kingdom, His Majesty Edmund Daukoru, said the meeting was convened to consider the security situation in the country, particularly at a time when the elections are just round the corner.
"This period is usually tensed and as traditional fathers, we felt we should get together and look at the matter from the grassroots point of view. We have looked at it from a holistic national point of view, but we felt that tact is required to make the elections succeed.
"So, this time we changed the tactic and said we should look at it from a practical and local point of view because if our local communities are safe, Nigeria will be safe. So, this is a complete departure from the past when we always focused on the problems from the national level," he explained.
Speaking further on the theme 'Ensuring A Violent-Free 2019 General Elections In Our Zones And Kingdoms: The Role Of Traditional Rulers,' he said: "We have made sure that the recommendations we reach at this meeting do not require much money but something that we as traditional rulers do every day and can implement by just applying a bit more of our time.
"But close to elections, we need to rededicate ourselves to what we already have been doing and draw up a check list by engaging with local authorities and stakeholders.
"During electioneering periods, people exaggerate already existing problems and tensions build in our communities. So, we have to address those flash points and those that cannot be immediately solved, at least stakeholders must have an understanding.
"And from screening to primaries to the actual campaigns and election proper, we should ensure that we have secured places in our communities where voting materials and ballot boxes can be stored and we should consider the means of achieving," he added.