The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, have pledged to ensure peaceful conduct of the election. The duo who spoke yesterday after signing a peace accord midwifed by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee (NPC), promised to rein in their supporters to conduct themselves peacefully during the election. Obaseki, however, wants the NPC to extend the peace accord to other actors who, he said, might have influence in the election.
“There are some known political actors who have influence in political space. I will want the peace committee to make such persons sign the accord,” he demanded. The governor, who described the peace accord as unique and historic, however, pledged that his party will abide by the terms.
“I have no choice because, apart from being a candidate, I am also the governor and chief security officer of the state. I want to commit that I will live by the terms of the accord,” the governor promised. On his part, the APC candidate, Ize-Iyamu, said he will be committed to the peace pact.
“We will talk to all our supporters to behave peacefully. We assure you that the election is going to be peaceful,” he pledged. The former Head of State, who presided over the signing of the peace pact, reminded the candidates that their integrity is at stake.
“By agreeing to sign this covenant of peace, all of you are committing yourselves to ensure an enduring peace in Nigeria and Edo State before, during and after the elections, and agreeing to look beyond short term electoral gain, sectional interest or narrow party advantage, and accepting to focus on nothing but outward development of Edo State. “I urge all the stakeholders to commit to the spirit of the accord while also remembering that a violation of this accord is putting your integrity on line, because you are signing this as people who are to be taken for your words.
“We are calling on everyone to work towards ensuring peaceful election process and ensure that peace reigns in Edo State during and after election,” Abubakar demanded. He told the participating political parties and their candidates that Edo deserves peace, “not just for its leaders and politicians, but also its people.” Abubakar urged the par-ties to adopt a code of conduct that promotes consultations as such will reduce the adversarial relationship that often develop during campaign. He stated that the peace accord was not just to ensure peace during the election, but also to accept the outcome of the elections.
“We as a people should aspire to see Nigeria where people feel safe to come out and cast their vote without any fear and need for police deployment,” he advised. Convener of the NPC, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, advised the candidates not to see the signing of the peace accord as mere ceremony, but “a vow, a trust and commitment making to the people of Nigeria and the rest of the world.” Kukah, who is Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, noted that the NPC works at the level of presidential election, but have to step it down because of the desire to see a peaceful conduct of Edo election.
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the NPC for their efforts to ensure a peaceful poll in Edo. The Oba, represented by the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri, appealed to the Edo people to shun violence during the exercise. Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the NPC has demonstrated that so much can be achieved in nation-building by the force of moral rather than statutory authority. Yakubu regretted that: “The commission’s preparations, deployment plans, new innovations in result management, the safety of personnel, security of materials and, above all, the credibility of elections are all negatively affected by violence or malpractices.
“Even worse, the health of all those involved is jeopardised by any disruption that will make the observance of health protocols in the context of the COVID- 19 pandemic impossible. It is, therefore, important for everyone to maintain the peace.”
He reiterated INEC’s commitment to conduct credible election in Edo State and called on the political parties and their candidates to abide by the letter and spirit of the peace accord. “Let it be your covenant with the people of Edo State to maintain the peace before, during and after the elections,” he advised. Apart from PDP and APC, other political parties and their candidates also signed the peace pact, which contained 10 principles and code of conduct.