… Only your votes will determine your governor, INEC assures Ondo electorates
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday assured Ondo State electorates that their votes will be the only thing that would determine who will be there next governor in Saturday’s election
This is even as all the candidates of the sixteen political parties in the election have signed a peace pact in Akure, commitng themselves and their parties to a violent free election
The peace pact was signed in the presence of some eminent Nigerians, including former Head of State, Abdusalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhamamadu Sa’ad Abubakar, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Hassan Kukah,former Arch Bishop of Abuja Catholic arch diocese, John Onayeikan and INEC officials
In his remarks , the INEC National Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, reminded the candidates that it is only peace that without peace, the Commission’s deployment plans, as well as new innovations in result management, the safety of personnel, security of materials and, above all, the credibility of elections will be undermined”.
He observed that the charged atmosphere in the State ahead the election demands that “political parties and candidates should affirm, respect, support, promote and commit to peaceful elections”.
According to him, “it is gratifying to note that respected statesmen, including traditional rulers as well as religious and business leaders, are working in a voluntary and non-partisan way to promote peaceful elections for the consolidation of our democracy in particular and for peace in Nigeria in general.
“By your continuous and consistent engagement for peace in Nigeria, you have once again demonstrated that moral suasion is as important as statutory authority in promoting peaceful co-existence and nation-building. Working with civil society organisations and other stakeholders, INEC will continue to support the good work of the Committee for peaceful elections in Nigeria.
“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.
“Unfortunately, the Ondo State Governorship election holding this Saturday is generating its own tensions. The charged atmosphere demands that political parties and candidates should affirm, respect, support, promote and commit to peaceful elections which, I understand, are the five cardinal pillars on which the Peace Accord rests. Without peace, our deployment plans, new innovations in result management, the safety of personnel, security of materials and, above all, the credibility of elections will be undermined. Even worse, public health will be jeopardised as observance of safety protocols in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic will be impossible to achieve in an atmosphere of disruption, violence and disorder. It is, therefore, important for everyone to maintain the peace”.
He added further that, “I wish to assure the Peace Committee of INEC’s commitment to transparent and credible elections. 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.
“Before I conclude, I wish to note that some of the candidates contesting in the Governorship election holding this Saturday were also candidates in the last election held four years ago on 26th November 2016. You will recall that the election was free, fair and credible. You may also recall that it was perhaps the only Governorship election in the history of Ondo State since 2003 whose outcome was not challenged at the Election Petition Tribunal.
“This is in spite of the fact that three of the contestants were senior lawyers. With this record and the recent peaceful conduct of the Edo State Governorship election, I implore you all and your supporters to conduct yourselves peacefully and not lower the bar”.
In his virtual message, the Chairman of the National Peace Committee and former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, emphasized the need for peaceful election in the country.
In his words, “since 2015 the National Peace Committee has been committed to peaceful elections in the country. Shortly before the 2019 general elections, speculations were rife that the process will be violent and will lead to the country’s ultimate disintegration.
“Once again the NPC was called again for intervention, the Committee not only supported peaceful election at the national level in 2019 but extended it commitment to facilitate peaceful election all over the country. Citizens should know that nothing could be achieved without peace. So during this election citizens are urged to abide by the COVID-19 regulations and keep the process safe”.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, urged the candidates to abide by the peace Accord.
He said, “this morning by the Grace of our creator, we are gathered for the signing of the Peace Accord between contestants of the forthcoming election, as members of the Peace Committee that have come together voluntarily, we have seen many elections across the country, from the main Presidential election in 2015 till date, but the best one so far was the one that took place in Edo state.
“It was so good and so real that the main contestant has said that he will not challenge the outcome, which means that he agreed with what the INEC and the security agencies did to bring peace and stability and transparent election in that state, before then we were aware of the heat generated in Edo State before the elections but it is now history.
“Now we are in Ondo State as members of the Peace Committee to talk to the contestants and their followers as religious leaders who are high stakeholders in general peace across in this country. I will like to make it clear to all of us as citizens of this country and the players who are going to be on the pitch on Saturday to contest for one single seat of the governor of Ondo State for the next four years.
“I will like to call on you not to see the signing of this Peace Accord as not just a mere ceremony formality but as a commitment by all of you, infact a convenant by which you will be held responsible for the outcome at the end of the day. I want to call on you once more to obey the rules of the game. I call it a game because I see election as a game where there must be a winner. There must be one winner who has already been ordained by the Almighty God before the casting of the first ballot and we do not know the person.
“Therefore when you do go out, tell the citizens what you will do for them, tell them your agenda, sway then to your side, talk to them to be peaceful, do not allow thuggery to take place throughout the duration of the election on Saturday. Let me remind all of us that power belongs to God”.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, assured that the Police will improve on the achievements it recorded in the Edo election by protecting the process.
“The police is going to be professional to the core, we are going to protect lives and property, before during and after this election. Police is going to ensure that the fundamental Rights of the citizen is protected. We are asking that the electorate should come out, we have enough personnel on ground we have enough facility on ground to ensure a hitch free election. We are going to improve on what we did in Edo State”, Abubakar stated.
In their separate responses after signing the Accord, the three major contestants, incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the APC, his deputy, Ayola Agboola of the Zenith Labour Party and Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP, assured that they will not only support a peaceful election, but will also reign in on their supporters to abide by the rules.