By Emma Amaize, Sam Oyadongha & Emem Idio
YENAGOA—FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan and three governorship aspirants in Bayelsa State— former Federal Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Godknows Igali;former Coordinator of Presidential Amnesty, PAP, Mr Timi Alaibe, and Mr. Erepamo Osaisai— spoke, yesterday, on how to ensure a violence-free governorship election in the state in November.
They spoke at the 13th Niger Delta Dialogue, facilitated by AA PeaceWorks in Yenagoa, the state capital with the theme, “Building Trust and Recovering Spaces for Nonviolent Elections in Bayelsa State.”
Jonathan, represented by a former Commissioner for Education in the state, Mr Tobias James, admonished gubernatorial aspirants not to seek power for the purpose of enjoying privileges and entitlements, but for the purpose of improving the well-being of the people.
He said:“The process leading to elections must be done in a manner that is transparent and fair. Politicians should conduct themselves in a manner that will promote peace in the society, and party primaries should be conducted in a way that will foster peace among different interest groups in the society.
“Let us always realise that election is about service to the people and not a contest for the fulfilment of personal ambitions. My message to those who desire to govern is that they should not seek power for the purpose to enjoy privileges and entitlements, but for the purpose of improving the well-being of our people.”
Ambassador Igali, on his part, said: “Essentially, the process of presenting oneself for elections is to serve and bring dividends of good governance to the lives of the people, create better society and a better environment.
“Therefore, the philosophical foundation of being a candidate for an election, is incompatible with somebody being a candidate for an election in which he wants to serve and for you in any way to inflict the people with violence and suffering, it is incompatible.
“Consequently, my action in presenting myself for electoral office is founded on the fact that there is an ethical and moral foundation. Many of us that are presenting ourselves have had an opportunity to be in public service, we have held public offices before.”
On his part, Alaibe said: “I want to associate myself with what is going on here, we have had a conference where our former president, Jonathan, also did a presentation on the subject of peace-building and non-violent elections. As for me, as a peace advocate, I want to associate myself with the deep work you are doing under the platform of Niger Delta Dialogue.
“I want to observe that from the presentations today that the idea of ensuring peaceful elections is something all well-meaning Nigerians and especially those of us from Bayelsa State must embrace. We have had our history here; our recent history is replete with things that happened here in Bayelsa that had led to violence.”
In her remarks, founder of AA PeaceWorks, facilitator of dialogue, Dr Judith Asuni, said the dialogue, which started in 2016 in the wake of the attacks on oil facilities in Niger Delta has been ongoing in the past three years.
She said: “This time, our focus is specifically on the upcoming Bayelsa governorship election. There are a number of lessons to be learn from the Rivers State elections, which was bloody and we do not want to see this happen again, we want to be proactive this time around to try to prevent the violence.”