By Nosa Obaze,
Some prominent religious leaders and the leader of market women in Edo State have thrown their weight behind the resolve of the Edo State Government to ensure peaceful local council polls scheduled for March 3, 2018.
They urged the people planning to disrupt the local government elections to stay away from the state and called on the security agents to do all within their powers to guarantee a peaceful atmosphere for the electorates to cast their votes.
In a telephone interview, the Archbishop of Bendel Province and Bishop of Esan Diocese, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Dr. Friday John Imaekhai, said: “There are rules for the conduct of elections and my advice to the candidates participating in the elections is that they should abide by the rules. The contestants should not see as it do or die affair. We do not want violence in Edo State.”
He added: “The law enforcement agents should ensure that there is an atmosphere of peace for voters cast their votes.”
The Archbishop denounced any plot by any party or individuals to cause mayhem in the state and said “we should avoid violence. Election is not a do or die affair. We must respect the dignity of the human being. We are praying for the Edo State government because so far, we appreciate the work of the state government. We are one people with a common destiny and must continue to sue for peace. No bloodshed.”
Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Edo State, Bishop Mond Igbinosa, called for a free, fair and peaceful election, stressing that “There must be no multiplicity of voting; everyone should act in a very civil manner while voting so that we can have a better Nigeria.”
In his words: “It is high time we all grew up and made Nigeria work. I am aware of the generally peaceful primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo Central and we hope the exercise continues to be peaceful. It is time to make things work in the nation.”
Leader of Edo Market Women, Madam Blackie Ogiamien, challenged the merchants of violence planning to cause mayhem in the state to seek a location outside Edo State for their evil plot and said that “we do not want fight in Edo State. We are one family in the state and the man that God has ordained is the one that will emerge.”
The calls by the religious leaders and Edo market women follow similar calls by a coalition of civil society organisations led by the Concerned Citizens of Edo State (CCES) on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not test the will and might of Edo people, with media reports that the PDP is plotting to derail the electoral process.
“We have read news reports of a clandestine design by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to subvert the forthcoming local government elections, using the instruments of the court and where that fails, recourse to arm youths and engage Niger Delta militias to stop the election.
“We have commissioned an independent investigation to establish the veracity of this report and a cursory appraisal of our findings validate the fears raised by the Edo State Government, that there is indeed a grand plan by the PDP to sabotage the election. We wish to put on record that we have reasons to believe the reports because the PDP had earlier kicked against the planned elections and told Nigerians of their plan to approach the court to challenge the planned local government elections,” leader of the organisation, Aghedo Ogbewi was quoted as saying by several news outlets.
He was reported to have warned that, “gone are the days our youths were deceived or cowed by the PDP. Edo youths are wiser now and will resist any self-serving plot by the PDP or any other political party or group, to disrupt a process that will bring socio-economic development to the ordinary Edo people in the various local government areas of the state.”