By Emma Amaize
NATIONAL Leader and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark have urged the people of Bayelsa State to avoid violence and vote peacefully in today’s governorship election in the state, saying “election is not war.”
Clark in a press statement, yesterday, said, “As the governorship election holds in Bayelsa state tomorrow (today), I am appealing to the people of Bayelsa state to shun every act of violence, they should go out and vote peacefully, according to their conscience, without been coerced or intimidated.”
“We do not want violence, the election is not war; it is not a matter of life or death. The present tension and killings in the state are not in the interest of the Ijaw people. Bayelsa is a miniature nation of all the Ijaws.
“Bayelsa State does not belong to any individual, so people should not behave as if the state is their personal property and nobody should act as if whatever he says is final. Politicians and their supporters should not destabilize the state for their own political benefits.
“We cannot be killing our people because of the personal interest of individuals. Ijaw people are the same; we are one and have always been very democratic and republican in attitude. For instance, the Late Harold Dappa-Biriye and his father contested the election, and the son won; it did not stop them from being father and son.
“The unfolding events are appalling, but I am happy that the election will hold, I, therefore, implore all the leaders of the political parties in the contest to understand that the state comes before every other person. They should know that without Bayelsa state, they will not exist and as such, they should consider Bayelsa interest first before their personal interests.
“I further call on all Ijaw sons and daughters in Bayelsa state to see that they perform their democratic duties by voting peacefully the candidate of their choice. Bayelsans know the records of those who have served the Bayelsa State in various capacities. We must realize that the interest of Bayelsa State and the Ijaw people is paramount.
“PANDEF is also calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to remain unbiased in the conduct of the election while we urge the security agencies to demonstrate professionalism and detachment in the discharge of their duties before, during and after the election.
“That what happened in 2015 governorship election and the 2019 presidential elections should not be allowed again to rear its ugly head; where people were killed, where elections were held in some places and elections postponed in some places due to crisis and violence.
“If the election is held, democracy should be seen to be prevailing. We want a peaceful, free, fair and credible election. Results announced must be a true reflection of the votes of the people of Bayelsa state,” he said.