Ahead of the Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), his main challenger and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and other contestants have pledged commitment to ensure violence-free election and to accept its outcome in good faith.
They gave the pledge on Tuesday in Benin City at the signing of the Peace Accord, organized by the National Peace Committee (NPC), led by a former Head of States, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and the Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese of the Catholic Church, Mathew Kukah.
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The event was held at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Center, Benin City and was coming on the heels of the Monday’s stakeholders meeting held at the same venue.
Speaking at the event, first of its kind at state level, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the the National Peace Committee has demonstrated that so much can be achieved in nation-building by the force of moral rather than statutory authority.
“The political parties and candidates contesting in the Edo Governorship election holding on Saturday are signing an accord to affirm, respect, support, promote and commit to the principles of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections about which we will hear more from the Peace Committee shortly.
“Our 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,” said Yakubu.
“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.”
Choosing “next governor”
He assured of INEC’s commitment to credible elections, saying the votes will count and that the people of Edo State will be the only ones to determine who becomes their next Governor.
According to him, their choice will be upheld and insisted that the commission is neutral and impartial.
“I call on all political parties and 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,” Yakubu said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the NPC and former Head of States, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), said that keeping the peace during and after election is a priority and it must be done.
He urged all contesting parties, to adopt a code of conduct that promotes consultations among them because only this will reduce the adversarial relationship that often develop during campaign.
He added that the NPC was in Edo not just for the signing of the peace accord by candidates but to encourage all to accept the outcome of the elections no matter the result.
In his opening remarks, Bishop Mathew Kukah expressed hope that in days ahead, the Saturday’s election will be the most peaceful election that has been ever conducted in Edo State.
According to him, there has been lots of anxiety but that the peace committee thought that the event is of great national and international significance, as it is being watched and monitored across the world.
Also speaking, the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, assured President Muhammadu Buhari and the NPC in ensuring peace during and after the election.
Represented by the Esogban of Benin, David Edebiri, the Benin monarch said elections in Edo State has never produced violence scenario the people are predicting.
Governor Godwin Obaseki appealed to the peace Committee not to limit its mandate to the candidates but to extend the accord to other actors who have influence in the political space to ensure that the exercise is complete and the election is successful.