Ten of the seventeen governorship candidates participating in the Saturday’s election in Ondo state have signed a peace pact to ensure a violence-free election with a promise to accept its outcome. The three major candidates that signed the peace accord include, Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressive Congress APC, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Agboola Ajayi of the Zenith Labour Party ZLP, and seven others.
The signing of the peace pact which took place in Akure, the Ondo state capital was facilitated by the National Peace Committee led by the former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The ceremony was witnessed by the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Yakubu Mahmood; Sultan of Sokoto Abukabar Saa’d; Bishop of Sokoto Diocese Hassan Kukah; former Bishop of Abuja Diocese John Onaiyekan and traditional rulers, among others.
The chairman of the committee, the former Head of State, Abubakar who joined the session via Zoom said that the peace accord was intended to enable the electorate to feel secure while exercising their franchise in an atmosphere of devoid of chaos and fear.
Abubakar urged all stakeholders to commit to the spirit of the accord. While appealing to the candidates to use the Edo election as a lesson for the election in Ondo State, he called on the electorate to cast their votes in the October 10 governorship election without fear of intimidation or coercion.
According to him “those who signed the peace accord have committed themselves to ensure peace in Ondo State and Nigeria at large before, during, and after the election. “The tension and anxiety associated with election necessitated the setup of the National Peace Committee which is to support peaceful election process and enthrone culture of peace.
“In 2014, the committee conveyed efforts to support peaceful election as well as ensuring a peaceful transition. “The intervention of the committee contributed immensely to the success of the 2015 election. The NPC has since successfully intervened in the general election to ensure a peaceful outcome to the 2019 general election even at the just-concluded Edo governorship election.
“The governorship election in Ondo State is only a few days away and we want peace during and after the election. We want to see Nigeria as a place where people come out peacefully and vote during the election without deprivation and Ondo State deserves this.
“As you are aware, the election will not come without a peaceful atmosphere, and most importantly disharmony among political parties hinders developmental efforts. “As we go into the election, we have been given assurance by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that they will conduct a free, fair and credible election.
The rest is left for the voters to do what is right. The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu pleaded with the parties, their candidates, and supporters to promote and support all efforts geared towards a peaceful and transparent election. Yakubu said the commission has met 12 of the necessary steps for the smooth conduct of the election.
The Police Inspector General, IGP, Mohammed Adamu represented by DIG Leye Oyebade assured of the safety of lives and properties. Adamu said the Police have been able to map out all the three senatorial districts and the 18 local government areas in the state.
Also, a member of the National Peace Committee, Bishop Mathew Kukah, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar charged the youths not allow themselves to be used for political violence.
According to Bishop Kukah, “it is imperative to call on everyone to work towards peaceful election to ensure peace reign during and after the election,” The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar called on the three major candidates to respect the accord as it is a basis for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the election, stressing that no election is worth the life of any individual.
The major candidates, Akeredolu, Ajayi, and Jegede promised to abide by the rules guiding the election and that they will accept the outcome of the poll. Akeredolu recalled that previous elections in the state had been peaceful and opined that the Saturday’s poll will also be peaceful.
He, therefore, urged the people to keep away from violence, assuring that the three major candidates who he said are colleagues will also meet to discuss how to ensure that peace reigns before, during, and after the election.
Akeredolu assured that peace will reign during the election on Saturday and appealed to INEC to ensure that the election is free, fair, and credible. The PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede called on the police and other security agencies to be neutral in the discharge of their duties during the election.
Jegede urged the security agencies, especially the Police to arrest and prosecute anyone who foment troubles during the election The ZLP candidate Hon Agboola Ajayi who is also the deputy governor of the state assured that members of his party will respect the accord signed.
Also present at the event include the Chairman of the State Council of Obas, Oba Fedrick Obayeru Akinruntan, the Olugbo of Ugbo land, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo other traditional rules and religious leaders across the state.
BY: TOLULOPE KADIRI