By Samuel Oyadongha
AHEAD of the November 16 governorship polls in Bayelsa State, former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday led other prominent Ijaws to converge at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State to fashion out a roadmap for a credible election and good governance in the state.
The workshop with the theme “building consensus through the Ijaw charter and Ijaw nation code of ethics, leadership and governance” held at De Gracious Event Centre in the state capital was organised by the Ijaw Elders Forum, Lagos, in collaboration with Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA), Ijaw Nation’s Forum, Ijaw Women Connect (IWC) and Embasara Foundation.
Speaking at the event, former President Jonathan warned against violence and urged politicians to tow the path of peace.
His words, “we must play down the violence in politics, there is no nation in the world that developed through violence when we look at the most developed country in the world, those are the most peaceful country.
“So if Bayelsa state must develop there must be peace in this state and we must start from the political process because most of the criminal gangs that have emerged in this state grew through political activities, we the politicians use them as boys and thugs and at the end of the election it becomes a problem to manage them.
“So for those who want to rule they must try as much as they can to play down violence.
“If God wants you to be our governor or hold any office in government is not because of the gun you carried don’t be deceived that is because of arms you carried, it is the will of God.
“This group Ijaw elders forum and others should encourage us to meet from time to time so that it comes a time that we shall stand and tell anyone who wants to governor us that we can’t accept this structure.
“If people must come here to invest then Bayelsa State must be peaceful, I appreciate what the government of this state is doing especially in the area of education. Educating our youth is even more important than the road because if we don’t educate them some of them will turn criminals and I agree with him totally on the issue of education in the state.
“What do you leave behind, sometimes is not about the big houses you build or the money you have but how creative you are, what renovation you bring to government, what are the privileges we have, it must go beyond power, everyone is a leader as long as you can influence another person then you are a leader, you don’t need to be a president or governor so all of us are leaders.
“Politically we should start at our local government levels because if our local government is not functioning as local government even just to clean and cut the grass they are waiting for the state governor to go over and clean up which is not right.
“Immediately the candidates are well defined I think we should have a forum where all of them will be with us, they must in our presence tell us they will not use violence for the election because nobody expects us to praise him as the governor of Bayelsa state if one person dies.”
In a communique issued at the end of deliberations, participants noted “that the development of the Ijaw nation has not in any form been commensurate with the depth of resource endowment in Ijawland and this indeed “is a reflection of leadership challenges.
“The recourse to violence during elections offers far-reaching negative consequences for our development as a people as it puts to question the critical essence of leadership in BayelsaState
“it was the resolve to change the trajectory of unaccountable leadership that inspired the production of the Ijaw Charter and the Code of Ethics, Leadership and Governance, which overall intent is to entrench the fundamentals of good, accountable, transparent and participatory governance to engender peace, security, social inclusion and justice for the sustainable economic growth and development.
“A government of inclusivity and accountability requires the enthronement of transformational leadership that upholds meritocracy, capacity, competence, vision, and drive.
“Every person aspiring to provide leadership, to be the governor of Bayelsa State must eschew violence at all times; we must not seek to be elected through the use of guns.
“Accordingly, participants agreed that: The process of sensitizing all elders, senior citizens, and aspirants being initiated by the Ijaw Elders Forum should be sustained,
“As enlightened people, we should seek transformational leadership that is integrative and complementary; leadership should not be by one person alone but must necessarily be complementary.
“Education is the most important weapon every leader should focus upon to advance a people-driven government.
“All aspirants for the office of governor of Bayelsa State must subscribe to the conduct of peaceful elections. No aspirant should seek to provide leadership and governance on the blood of fellow Bayelsans.
“Bayelsans must reject any candidate who employs violence, provides guns to kill fellow Ijaw men and women to gain ascendancy to the seat of power as governor of Bayelsa state.”
The workshop also had in attendance other important sons and daughters of Ijaw nation, including Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, retd, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State who represented Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, Gen. Paul Alaowei Toun, Chairman, BoT, Ijaw Professionals Association, Arc. Amagbe Denzil Kentebe, Chairman, BoT, G24 Embasara Foundation, Chief Atamuno Atamuno, Vice Chairman, Ijaw Elders Forum, Lagos, Dr. Erepamo F. Osaisai, Chief Timi Alaibe and Mrs Ebizi Ndiomu-Brown amongst others.