The Bayelsa State government has announced that it will use this year’s Thanksgiving Public Holiday to fast and pray against violence in the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in the state.
The government said that the bloodshed which occasioned major polls in the past must not be allowed to reoccur, noting that the event will be non-partisan and will cut across the entire state irrespective of party affiliations or religious leaning.
At a press briefing on the activities lined up for the November 2 annual event, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, stressed that the Archbishop of York, Most Reverend John Sentamu, from the United Kingdom, will be the headline cleric and will be assisted by Bishop Wale Oke and other men of God.
He added that the bill to declare November 2 a public holiday, was one of the first set of proposed laws that the governor sent when he took over about eight years ago, which underscores the importance that the governor and the people attach to the programme.
Iworiso-Markson, who heads the media committee of the event, added that this year’s event will be significant since it will be the last in the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson.
“This edition will soon be making the eight one in the series. Sometimes, we take these things for granted, but I think this is something we shouldn’t take lightly. God has preserved us as a government and as a people to this point. We are truly blessed for what the lord has done.
“Most times people complain and rarely have the time to praise God. As a government there are several reasons to give thanks to God. This administration is the first to serve for eight years since the creation of this state. That’s quite significant.
“With the kind of peace and political stability which we enjoy today as a people, we have every reason to praise God. To manage this government and have the kind of rancour-free relationship between the legislature and the judiciary, I think it’s something to celebrate” he said.
He added: This thanksgiving is non-partisan. There’s no APC and there’s no PDP. The event is for all the people of the state. It doesn’t matter the political party you belong. We should set aside our differences and come together to give thanks.
“ As we go into the elections, it is not a coincidence that the thanksgiving is coming before the elections. It goes to show that God will see us through this election to the extent that nothing and nobody will be lost. To the extent that the kind of violence and bloodshed that has often characterised our election , we will not experience it this time.
“ So, part of the reason why we will gather on Saturday on the 15,000 capacity ecumenical centre is to commit the election in his care. We need to recognise the place of God in our lives.”
In his comments, Secretary of the media planning committee, David Yallah, said that there were plenty reasons to honour God by attending the yearly thanksgiving which also features fasting and prayers.