Dr Judy Asuni is the executive Director Academic Associate Peaceworks. She has been at the forefront of reforming armed youths otherwise called militants in the Niger Delta for close to a decade.
In this interview, Dr Asuni speaks on efforts by her body to ensure a violent free election. She also expresses worries that some of the armed groups in the region have started returning to the creeks. Excerpt:
What are your fears about the coming elections
My fears are that we may see even more violence than we saw in previous elections.
The stakes are very high now. I have just been to Abuja, the tensions in the north, people in the north feeling it is time to get their Representatives back. People In the South South are feeling that Goodluck Jonathan should continue as President. I am afraid that the stakes are higher than before. We are working on a project with funding from Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, PIND, on non violent elections for 2015. We have worked for more than a decade now with members of the armed groups in the Niger Delta. They killed some of the young men in political violence in the past. So we are trying to get the message home that you may be hired to harass, intimidate and steal ballot boxes by opponents but ultimately you can lose your lives in the process.
We are doing a series of videos about people who have been killed in political violence. Talking to their wives, their children, sometimes their mothers. It is very sad, because the long time impact is huge, children growing up without any father. We interviewed a family where the child was in the womb when the father was killed. So this child has never known the father.
In Rivers state we have had situations where APC secretariats have been reportedly bombed on two occasions, the PDP governorship candidate was also allegedly attacked during his campaign . Do you see people coming out to vote during the elections with violence already in the air?
I hope that they will turn up for the elections. We are working on eighteen local governments areas likely prone to violence, one of them is Okirika where APC secretariat has been attacked. The other local governments are also prone to violence . One thing we are trying to do is get people to take control of the elections themselves, take control of the governance process.