From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
As the general elections draw nearer, 14 gubernatorial candidates in Plateau State have signed a peace pact.
The signing which was facilitated by a religious peace advocate group, Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace (DREP) centre tasked the candidates to be peaceful before, during and after the elections.
Chairman, Board of Governors, DREP and Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, in his welcome address, charged all the candidates to ensure that their campaign to electorates is issue base, and devoid of violence.
Kaigama said, “We want assurances from each of you candidates that you will run only issue based campaigns, free of hate speeches, insults, intimidation, blackmail and inciting comments.”
“We wish to plead also that you use this forum to kindly call on your followers to exercise great restraint and conduct themselves peacefully.”
Bishop Kaigama also cautioned other citizens against violence “my dear elders and fellow citizens of Plateau state, let us be more than ever sincerely to say no to violence and politics of bitterness, calumny, manipulation and intimidation.”
Text of the Peace Accord reads in parts “We call on our supporters and loyalists to refrain from provocative pronouncements, speeches and declaration or any form of violence before, during and after the elections.”
“We shall shun politics of bitterness and hostility. We shall shun conduct our campaigns in peaceful, mature and respectful manner devoid of religious, ethnic or tribal incitement and profiling.
“Where there are grievances arising from the elections, we shall seek legal redress.” It stressed.
In his remarks, the gubernatorial candidate of the APC, and incumbent Governor of the state, Simon Lalong, said he has fulfilled 60 percent of his 2015 campaign promises, hence the need to be re-elected to consolidate on the remaining 40 percent.
Lalong said, “I belief that I have done 60 percent of my 2015 campaign promises, that is why I’m seeking second tenure in office to consolidate on the achievements.”
Speaking on violence free campaign, the APC gubernatorial candidate said the peace accord he signed with the then PDP candidate, late Gyang Pwajok still stands with the rest of his opponents in the 2019 elections.
The Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Gyang Buba, who is the chairman council of chiefs in the state said the traditional council have endorsed the address of the Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, and urged all citizens to abide by it.
The royal father cautioned candidates, and political parties against desperation in winning elections “elections should not be seen as do or die affairs.
Meantime, opposition political parties contesting against the incumbent APC administration in the State warn against any form of rigging by INEC, government apparatus and security agents.
Religious leaders who attended the peace meeting collectively said they will hold politicians responsible should they embarked on violence electioneering.
Similarly, security chiefs at the event in separate address assured of non partisans in the electoral process.
They however warned that anyone who will contravenes the electoral process through use of weapons, ballot box snatching will be meant to face the full wrath of the law.
On his part, Residence Electoral Commissioner (REC) Plateau state, Alhaji Hussain Halilu Pai, said INEC will not be bias, and it will do justice to all political and candidates.
Pai revealed that over 300,000 Permanent Voter Cards (PVC’s) are yet to be collected by electorates, he pleaded with political parties to prevail on the electorates to obtain the voter cards, stressing that no proxy collection of PVC’s.
The 14 political parties who signed the peace accord include APGA, MPN, UPP, PPN, PDP, APC, NRM, ADC, SDP, PDC, JMPP, ABP, GPN and AD.