Stop racism – Prof Bodunde, Agboke, Sogunle, Akinsanya, say it disrupts peace 

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Stop racism – Prof Bodunde, Agboke, Sogunle, Akinsanya, say it disrupts peace 
Prof Helen Bodunde

Professor Helen Bodunde at the 2022 International World Peace Day, chaired by Prof. CFI Onwuka, has admonished people of all background to shun racism to embrace peaceful existence.

The Don, speaking on the Day’s theme tagged, “End Racism: Build Peace” organized by Center for Grassroot Education, Healthcare and Empowerment (CenGEHE) in collaboration with Network on Peace and Security for Women in ECOWAS Region (NOPSWECI), held at the NLC Hall, Abeokuta, Ogun State, stated that racism as the cause of lack of respect for human rights resulting in unhappiness, agitation and violence.

L-R: (Prof. CFI Onwuka Chairman of the Day), Apt Tola Adenekan (Chief Host), Ms Mojisola Akinsanya Coordinator, Network on Peace and Security for Women in ECOWAS Region (NOPSWECO), Barrister Mutiu Agboke (Resource Person), Prof Helen Bodunde (Guest Speaker)

Professor Bodunde said that other names for racism are prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community or institution against a person or people on the basis of his or their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

The Celebration in progress

She explained further that racism include all the laws, policies, ideologies, and barriers that prevent people from experience justice, dignity and equity because of their racial identity, adding that it can also come in form of harassment, violence, or intimidation, behaviour, saying It also exists in system and institution that operate in ways that lead to inequity and injustice.

Discrimination or racism is the most disturbing issue in the world today; not because it is a new phenomenon but because it has reached an unprecedented level.

“It is not difficult to see how most societies of the world of which Nigeria is one; are characterized with unfair treatments such as religious sentiment, political favouritism, bigotry and social prejudices.

“Racism continue to poison institution, social structures, and everyday life in every society. It continues to be a driver of persistent inequality. And it continues to deny people their fundamental human rights. It destabilizes societies, undermines democracies and eroded the legitimacy of governments”.

Prof Bodunde who also is the President of Education, Youth, Gender and Family Network, cited as examples, the deadly effects of racism in the tragic death of George Floyd and the countless reports about the ugly tale of people of colour who were prevented from crossing borders while white Ukrainians were ushered to safety, as well as Anti-Asian rhetoric during Covid-19, and the resultant statistics which revealed that people of colour were hospitalized and perished from the virus.

Hence, Professor Bodunde proffers that “dismantling discrimination and racism is crucial to creative a new world based in tolerance, peace and equality.

The erudite scholar illustrated Peace in the context of Albert Einstein which says peace is not only an absence of war but that it includes the presence of justice, law, order in governance in the society as well as in agreement with Martin Luther King Jr who described peace as a virtue, state of mind, a disposition, which can be used as a social goal (John Guilding).

Peace as “absence of violence, freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotion, a state of mutual concord between people and government, absence of mental stress, general security of public places, virtue, order, good law, good government, respect for human rights”.

She added that every individual should be involved in peacekeeping which is about bringing hostile parties to agreement, essentially through such peaceful means as those foreseen in Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations. It’s a process of bringing about peace, restoring peace, in situation of conflict, especially by reconciling adversaries.

She noted that contact, cooperation, communication, and conciliation are essential for peacemaking.

“We all have a role to play as Nigerians at this period in fostering peace, building peace and in tackling racism which is a crucial way to contribute.

“As individuals, within communities, organization, churches, mosque, and in the state, we can do more to contribute to the struggle for the creating an inclusive government as we re-commit our loyalty to combat social, economic, political and cultural exclusion, we should reinforce democratic processes that are based on political participation, equity and social justice.

“As well, we must recognize our own position of power and privilege. We must listen with intent; acknowledge our own construct and preconceptions; and recognize that experiences, opportunities and access are influenced by race, gender, ethnicity and other forms of diversity”.

Above all, according to Prof Bodunde, “education can contribute to improved governance by addressing underlying inequities that fuel conflict, providing education and employment opportunities to disenfranchised youths, empowering adolescent girls and women as actors in peace building process, imparting civic and political education, and modelling democratic participation and decision making”.

In a similar manner, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Oyo State, Barrister Mutiu Agboke while reminding the guests what they can do to avoid racism and maintain a peaceful society, he allayed three fears that usually caused voters apathy, saying that if they go out en mass to vote for their prefered candidate, there is bound to be peace in the land.

Barrister Agboke assured the people that with the availability of BVAS, the era of rigging election through an incident form is gone.

He further stated that the electronic transfer of voting result would outrightly put an end to manipulation of results at the voting centre while INEC has put measures in place to arrest any moneybags who intend to induce electorates with money, adding that the Electoral Act has stipulated that whoever is cut in the act will be prosecuted in the Court of Law, and that there are three punishments awaiting such individual; N500,000 fine, two years jail term or both.

Agboke urged everyone to go out to vote without the wrong notions mentioned above that their votes don’t count. It certainly count.

“We want people to understand the need for them to show enthusiasm, readiness, willingness in voting on election day.

“People are sceptical that their votes will not count, saying why do I need to go out. In that regards, they have issue with the electoral management body. Again, they have issue with political party who often than not will impose candidate and will not allow the candidate who emerged through the primaries to fly the flag of the party.

“Not only that, they have issue with political process that is been manipulated to allow the politicians or stakeholders to use money to induce the voters.

“And all of these things put together are the things that we are trying to explain that with the new electoral act that we have, most of these issues have been addressed. For example, INEC official cannot tamper with electoral process again.

“INEC as electoral management body has looked inward, perfected the electoral process for the participants, i.e. the electorates and the politicians.

“On election day, the Commission has device a machine that to a large extent will disallow any electoral criminal with a view to disrupt electoral process.

So from the issue of accreditation, your vote is guaranteed. From the issue of sorting out, your vote is guaranteed. And of course, the most guaranteed level is the collation level.

“With the introduction of the IREM – a technological device – manufactured for INEC alone, nothing can go there, which can be monitored by journalists, civil societies, even anybody from anywhere can monitor it. Infact the collation would have been done by members of the public before the official announcement.

“If on election day, you are caught, you are going to pay N500,000 or you go to jail for two years or both.

“Before now, anybody can move as he likes on the election day but now you have to remain where you are. Even, if you are the governor or president contesting.

“In this regard, the aparthy should be removed by telling the electorates that in this coming election, your votes will count.

“Secondly, the issue of vote buying is a very serious problem and people will say they queued in the scorching sun and at the end of the day, the money bags will just come to induce the voters. Now there’s a very strong collaboration between the INEC and the security agents. People will say INEC doesn’t do anything about vote buying, but I do tell them INEC was the one that partners with EFCC and ICPC. So, other layers of security should also imbibe this spirit in checkmating the use of money to induce voting.

He said electoral act has stopped god-fatherism, cited the newly released list by INEC which adhered strictly to the provisions of the Act as it happened in Yobe and Akwa Ibom.

The Special Guest of Honour, Mr Kehinde Sogunle, who is the Labour Party governorship candidate, in his goodwill message charged everyone to see fellow human being as one.

The former Commissioner said “irrespective of where we all come from or our varied background be it financial, educational, gender, religion, tribe or underprivileged, we should recognize that we are one and all working for humanity”.

The Convener, Ms Mojisola Akinsanya deliberated on injustices been melted on women and youths  as a form of racism.

We want to make sure that women are part of decision making. We don’t want to see women as victims of violence again but how they can be on the table.

“Women should be on the key processes; all the committees. We have seen women that are raped by herdsmen, and all those things happening in the rural areas.

“We want to see youths not being given that cliche of name because whenever they mention youths in any election, it is about violence, it is about thuggery.

“We are working at how we can turn that narrative so that youths can be a value to our system. How we can stop calling youths our future leaders but to involve them as CMB. How many Youth are involve in INEC adhoc staff, or are they just giving them peanut of work to do during election. Are they really mainstreaming them in the work policy of INEC? How the youths can become International observers, do they even know they can become International observers? As I am standing here, I have observed elections in about twelve African countries with African Union and United Nations.

“We want to train them and give them capacity on how they can become deserved value to the system”, the CoordinatorNetwork on Peace and Security for Women in ECOWAS Region (NOPSWECO) stated.