Calls on INEC to avoid inclusive elections
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Ahead of the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State, a non-partisan group, Bayelsa Peace Initiative, BAPI, on Tuesday, cautioned supporters of political parties over violent conduct.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Convener, Bennett Ghomorai, which BAPI expressed concern over growing tension and violent attitude of some party supporters in the name of campaigning and also protecting their political stronghold.
The group said there are indications that politicians and their supporters want to truncate the peace in the state with violent campaigns and hate speech, therefore security agencies should rise to the occasion and deal with anybody or group irrespective of their party affiliations according to the law before, during and after the election.
The statement reads in part, “We are worried about the trend of events in our state as far as campaigns by political parties are concerned.
“We in Bayelsa Peace Initiative, BAPI, want to categorically state that violence under the platform of the campaign is not accepted. We implore all political leaders and supporters to please behave maturely in carrying out their campaigns because peaceful and issued based campaigns are our expectation and Bayelsans as a whole. By this, you can speak on basic ideologies and issues that would positively impact the lives of Bayelsans which will make people vote for you.
“We condemn intimidation, oppression, insults and barbaric attitudes that have already thrown the state into unnecessary tension. We want to state that the world is watching us. We can achieve a violent–free election come November 16, and yes we can.
“Let politicians be careful with the ambition they are projecting at the expense of precious lives of Bayelsans. We charge political leaders of the various parties that are contesting including their flag-bearers to borrow and apply the words of former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, who said, “My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”, and we beg politicians to have this mindset and not to allow selfish persons using their names to derail them, but caution them not to be violent.
“Please, our politicians consider the lives and property of fellow Bayelsans. Please avoid any action that would jeopardize the lives of innocent men, women, boys, girls, children, families, communities and in-Bayelsans living and doing business here.
“Please let us change the narrative of bloodshed, burning, and maiming. Let us prove that yes we can peacefully behave ourselves before and during the election to achieve a peaceful and seamless transition. Animosity and retaliation will spoil a lot of things, please avoid it.”
The group also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure there are no inclusive elections in the state, “We implore INEC to please put their house in order and make sure all is accurately put in place and set, and also the card readers are functioning well, and ad hoc staff be well trained and paid. Security agents please protect from being intimidated and cornered to play to the tune of the piper.
“We beg INEC not to allow any form of inclusive election in Bayelsa State governorship election because this will definitely lead to avoidable violence in the state and that will not speak well of INEC.”