As a result of the Peace Accord candidates, the drumbeats of violence and fears that Saturday’s governorship
election in Ondo State may turn bloody are decreasing and their parties have committed themselves to it.
The unfolding events of the three major contenders’ political strongholds, however, still show that the Independent National
Election Commission (INEC) and the security services can not rest on their oars until the polls are over.
The governing All Progressives Congress ( APC), the People’s Democratic Party ( PDP) and the Zenith
Labour Party (ZLP), members of the three main political parties, have targeted each other across the state.
The President of the INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who denounced the ugly pattern, reiterated the need for the National Peace
Committee (NPC), led by the former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd), to sign a Peace Agreement for all candidates.
Meanwhile, INEC, security forces and all political parties involved in the vote were warned
by the United States (US) to ensure credible, free , fair and non-violent state elections.
“Through a statement on Tuesday, the US Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria tasked critical stakeholders” to
take concrete steps to ensure a peaceful election that reflects the will of the Ondo people.
Since then, the US government has imposed a visa ban
on any politician guilty in the forthcoming election of stoking violence.
In Nigeria ‘s elections, the United Kingdom even threatened
the capture of properties by masters of political violence.
“The United States remains committed to the U.S.-Nigeria partnership as we work together to achieve our mutual goals of peace and prosperity for the citizens of both our countries,” the statement read
While dismissing misgivings against INEC, Prof. Yakubu assured the people that their votes would count in the election, saying; “Our commitment is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Ondo State is entirely in the hands of the voters.
“I wish to assure all eligible voters that every vote will count and only the choice made by the people of Ondo State will determine the outcome of the election. I want to assure political parties and candidates that we will remain focused on our processes and procedures. The commission will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.”
A riot act against impunity, vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, diversion
of election materials, collation disruption, result falsification, among others, was read by the INEC boss.
At each stakeholder meeting, Yakubu expressed dismay at the pockets of violence experienced between the parties and stressed the importance of the
Peace Accord reached among the political actors, retaining the performance of the Edo State Committee as the agreement to preserve the peace agreement.
At the Peace Accord signing on Tuesday, Yakubu recounted that; “Only three weeks ago in Benin City, political parties and candidates for the Edo State governorship election signed the Peace Accord. The intervention of the NPC, no doubt, contributed in no small way to the peaceful conduct of the election, whose outcome has been adjudged as credible.”
He reaffirmed that; “The votes will count. I call on all political parties and candidates to abide by the letter and spirit of the Peace Accord by appealing to your supporters to maintain the peace before, during and after the elections. This will be your own way of showing commitment to the Peace Accord and appreciation for the work of the Peace Committee.”
The NPC Chairman, Abubakar, implored all the gladiators to commit themselves to the spirit of the accord, explaining that; “The tension and anxiety associated with election necessitated the setup of the committee, which is to support peaceful election process and enthrone a culture of peace.
“The governorship election in Ondo State is only a few days away and we want peace during and after the election. We want to see Nigeria, as a place where people come out peacefully and vote during the election without deprivation and Ondo State deserves this.
“As you are aware, the election without a peaceful atmosphere, and most importantly, disharmony among political parties, will hinder developmental efforts. As we go into the election, we have been given assurance by INEC that they will conduct a free, fair and credible election. The rest is left for the voters to do what is right.”
The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, Bishop Hassan Matthew Kuka, Bishop John Onaiyekan, and members
of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) were among the other dignitaries present at the gathering.
“Sultan Abubakar also called on all the candidates for governorship and their backers to avoid
violence and accept peace, admonishing people against an election to” do or die, noting: “I like to call on you to see the signing of accord this morning not just a mere ceremony or formality, but a commitment by all of you. In fact, a covenant that you all will be responsible for the outcome at the end of the day.
“Let all of us obey the rules of the game, I call it game, because election is a game where there must be only one winner and others who have not won; I won’t call them losers.
“There is only be one winner and that winner has already been ordained by Almighty God before the vote is even cast. We don’t know who that person is. So, as a contestant, tell the citizens of Ondo State what you can’t do and what you will do for them and their vote must count as INEC has assured us that every vote must count.”
He charged them to appeal to their “supporters to remain peaceful, do not allow thuggery to take place anywhere, not only near the polling booth, even in entire state throughout the duration of election on Saturday.”
The religious leader, however, cautioned them not to “sign this agreement if you
know that in the Ondo State election on Saturday, you will not preserve peace.”
As expected, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (APC), who is seeking re-election, the candidates of the major political parties, his deputy, Agboola
Ajayi (ZLP) and Eyitayo Jegede (PDP), all agreed to cooperate with the INEC and other stakeholders for a non-violence vote.
They urged their various supporters across the state ‘s three senatorial
districts and 3,009 voting units to shun abuse and abandon inflammatory remarks.
HOWEVER, at the Peace Accord signing gathering, there was a mild drama as
Governor Akeredolu embraced Jegede, but snubbed his deputy by waving to him reluctantly.
The Deputy Governor and ZLP candidate’s Media Advisor, Allen Sowore, also said that APC
supporters booed and insulted him while driving out of the Peace Accord meeting place.
However, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, who was also in the State, stated that no less
than 33,783 police officers would be assigned to the Election Security Duty, adding that no cause for alarm existed.
Adamu clarified that 30,933 traditional police personnel and 2,850 special
police units will be part of the deployment, saying; “The police deployment will be complemented by an additional 3,500 manpower that will be drawn from other security agencies.
“The military will be engaged for the purpose of securing the inter-state borders while the Nigeria Police Airwing will provide air surveillance. The personnel shall be deployed to adequately secure the 3,009 polling Units in the 203 wards spread over the 18 local government areas of the state.
“They are to protect the personnel and assets of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the electorate, and residents of Ondo State in general before, during and after the election.”
The IGP said the deployment was equally aimed at denying misguided political actors that
were opposed to the dictates of the electoral act, bent on disrupting the election.
“I hereby warn violence mongers to immediately desist from their uncharitable deviant activities or be prepared to face the consequences,” Adamu warned. “I call on all the political parties to embrace the virtues of democracy by seeing elections as a call to service of the people and not ‘a do-or-die affair.”
At least, with the turn of affairs, the electorate can now heave a sigh of relief even though there are still signs of trouble, as
there is a visible presence of odd faces, which many see as the presence of the key political parties of recruited thugs from neighboring states.
Source: THE GUARDIAN NEWS