The National Peace Committee (NPC) headed by former Head of State, General Abdulsalmi Abubakar (rtd), its convener Bishgop Hassan Kukah Tuesday made the contesting political parties to sign a peace accord where they were charged to ensure they work for peace and also accept the outcome of the results with special emphasis on the two major contenders which are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Abdulsalami said that the peace pact means that the actors have embraced peace, adding that with the assurances from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of maintaining neutrality and the Inspector General of police Muhammed Adamu assuring of adequate security, Edo people should come out and vote on the Election Day even as he lauded the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II for his efforts at bringing the warring parties together when the tension was at its peak.
He said “The gubernatorial election in Edo state is just a few days away and giving peace during and after the election is a priority and it must be done. We as a people should aspire to see Nigeria where people feel safe to come out of their homes to cast their votes without any fear.
On his part, Kukah said the peace meeting was a rare one as the committee usually work during presidential elections “This is one of the very rare occasions where the peace committee has to roll out its drum to accompany gubernatorial candidates, usually we do our work at the level of presidential election”
In a remark, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu reassured of the readiness of the commission to conduct a credible election the NOC has demonstrated that so much can be achieved in nation building by the force of moral rather than statutory authority.
“I wish to assure you of INEC’s commitment to credible election, the votes will count, the people of Edo state will determine who will become their next governor, their choice will be upheld”
Similarly, the Police IG represented by Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Research and Planning, Adeleye Oyebade said police would work with sister security agencies to ensure a peaceful exercise.”
Oba of Benin In remarks, the Oba of Benin represented by the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri while applauding the initiators said election in Edo has never been this tense.
He said: “I want to tell you that elections in Edo State have never produced such a bloody outcome. The first election I participated in was in Benin in 1952. Since then I have participated in every national, sub-national, local government election that took place in Nigeria.
“We appeal to our sons who are all in the field to know that only one winner will emerge. This election is particularly good because the two main contestants are people from reputable families in Benin.
Governor Obaseki urged the committee to also look out for non-state actors who he said have influence over voters even as he said he as a candidate and chief security officer of the state would abide by the peace pact. “I want to say on behalf of myself, as a candidate of the party and my party, the PDP, that we are fully committed to ensuring that we have a peaceful election.
His counterpart, Ize-Iyamu towing the same line said “Let me reaffirm our commitment to what has been signed and to assure Nigerians and particularly our people in Edo State, that we will talk to all our supporters and we will conduct ourselves peacefully. We will do our best to ensure that the election is peaceful. We support free, fair and credible elections. We believe that is the only way that we can sustain our democracy.