Ahead of the governorship election holding in Kogi State on Saturday, November 11, 18 political parties participating in election have signed a peace accord.
The peace accord signing event was facilitated by the National Peace Committee under the leadership of Nigeria’s former Head if State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
It was signed on Wednesday in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State.
Among the political parties that the signed the peace accord are the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP) and Action Alliance (AA).
Others included the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), the Action Democratic Congress (ADC), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), National Rescue Movement and Action Democratic Party among others.
The accord signing is to ensure that there is peace before, during and after the election.
Speaking at the ceremony, retired Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, the Chairman, National Peace Committee, appealed to the conscience of the governorship candidates in the state.
Abubakar, represented by John Cardinal Onaiyekan, urged the parties to abide by the accord during the election.
He said that he was beginning to have serious doubt on the seriousness and commitment on the part of candidates involved in such a peace accord..
“This is because it has become a ritual of signing with no fruitful results or meeting up the expectations of the Nigeria citizens.
“The players should know that we can’t be deceived over and over again.
“I’m optimistic that if we do things in the right way, the nation will prosper. And this is my hope and prayers.
“If the major players of this accord will play the game according to the rules of the game, we shall be better off as a nation.
“Therefore, we expect them to keep this accord and ensure that the election of Saturday, Nov. 12 will be free, fair and peaceful, ” he said.
He said that INEC as the umpire had prepared well for the election in the three states of Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa and should be supported to succeed in the onerous task bestowed upon it.
“Those contesting the election have the singular agenda to serve the people, so they shouldn’t force themselves on the people but allow them to make their choice unhindered,” he said.
The Cardinal decried a situation whereby the courts are the ones determining, who to lead the people in election.
“We want the politicians to redeem their image this time around by allowing the people to free choose their leader.
“We hope this time around, without any breach of trust, the electorate will be allowed to exercise their rights to cast their votes to whom they want to lead them.
“It’s unfortunate and a great pity that in Nigeria today, election has been a do or die affairs
“If all players play according to the rules, there will be no point going to court.
“Recoursing to court means that the process is deficient and floppy, ” he said.
The INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke through the National Commissioner supervising Kogi, Kwara and Niger, Prof. Sani Adam (SAN), said that INEC was very prepared for the off cycle governorship election in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa.
Yakubu said that the commission had high hope that things will change for the better amongst the politicians for a free, fair, credible and peaceful election.
“We have done everything possible in area of non sensitive and sensitive materials with our ad hoc staff well prepared for the Saturday’s poll.
“INEC expects the peace committee to make it sacrosanct for the candidates in the coming governorship election to be committed to this accord for a free, fair, and peaceful poll.
“We don’t want the courts to the determinants for our elections in this country.
“As the giant of Africa, Nigeria must set the pace for others to follow in the area of electing our leaders,” he said.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Kayode Egbetokun, represented by DIG A.H. Sani, called on the electorate not to exercise fear in performing their civic duty but should come out en masse considering the security personnel put in place to protect them.
“The police and other security agencies will not be partial but be resolute and fair to all and needed the cooperation and support of citizens to succeed in the assignment,” he said.
Also speaking, the Attah of Igala, Dr Matthew Opaluwa, represented by HRH Khalid Ali-Bukar, Onyigba of Mozum, said as custodians of the people at the grassroots the traditional rulers would canvass for peaceful conduct on the day of the poll.
He advised politicians to allow peace to reign and not go the polling units to foment any trouble.
Gov. Yahaya Bello, on his part commended the Abdulsalam led National Peace Committee for its committed to ensure peaceful election.
Bello, represented by state’s Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Mahmud Ozigi, said necessary security arrangements had been made for a peaceful, credible and successful election on Saturday.
Speaking shortly after the peace accord, Alhaji Usman Ododo, the APC Governorship candidate, expressed happiness over the peace pact.
Ododo, who expressed confidence over his chances of winning the poll on Saturday, called on residents of Kogi to conduct themselves peacefully for the succes of the poll. (vitalnewsngr.com)