Ahead of this weekend’s gubernatorial election in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his All Progressives Congress (APC) rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday, committed to a violence-free exercise.
The pledge was made during the signing of a truce deal brokered by Chairman of National Peace Committee, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah, in Benin City.
Addressing the candidates, the former Head of State encouraged them to accept the outcome of the poll, warning that any violation of the agreement calls their integrity to question.
He advised all parties to adopt a code of conduct that promotes consultation, because according to him, “only this will reduce the adversarial relationship that often develops during campaign.”
Abubakar went on: “By agreeing to sign this covenant of peace, all of you are committing yourselves to an enduring peace in Nigeria and Edo State before, during and after the elections. You are also agreeing to look beyond short-term electoral gain, sectional interest or narrow party advantage, and accepting to focus on nothing but the 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 the line. You are signing this as people who are to be taken for your words. We are calling on everyone to work towards ensuring a peaceful election.”
MEANWHILE, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who was also at event, assured the electorate of his organisation’s neutrality, stating that Edo people only would determine who becomes their next governor.
In his remarks, Kukah said the pact should not be seen as a mere ceremony, adding that the project was of great national and international significance.
“For me as a priest, I liken this to an exchange of vows. You are committing yourselves, and we are only witnesses. As you read from the words of the accord, it is a trust you are taking upon yourselves and a commitment you are making to the people of Nigeria and all those around the world,” he said.
Obaseki, however, appealed to the committee to extend the olive branch to other political actors who exercise influence on the political space.
On his part, Ize-Iyamu stated: “We are grateful to the peace committee, INEC and the police. We are also grateful to the Oba of Benin because what we are witnessing today (yesterday) was actually initiated few weeks ago.”
Earlier, the Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare II, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his peaceful disposition.
Represented by the Esogban of Benin, Solomon Edebiri, he called on the people to shun violence, pointing out that when two people contest, only one emerges as winner.