Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The National Peace Committee (NPC) led by former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), yesterday visited Bayelsa State in a bid to ensure a credible and violence-free governorship election next Saturday.
Leader of the team, Bishop Matthew Kukah, who spoke during the event which was held at the Diepreye Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall in Yenagoa, the state capital, noted that as a journey, democracy requires constant practice to attain a level of stability.
At the event, which had the state Governor, Seriake Dickson; traditional rulers, politicians, and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in attendance, Kukah explained that it is only the living that can enjoy the fruits of democracy.
He, therefore, enjoined the people of the state to rewrite their own political story by ensuring that no incidence of violence takes place before, during and after the election.
According to him, “A violence-free poll must be something that all of you must try to work towards. As you know, not every Bayelsan is a member of a political party, but it is on your behalf that this election is being conducted. I bring you greetings from the peace committee, and I want to enjoin you to ensure that we all imbibe the thinking that only the living can enjoy the dividends of democracy.
“The idea behind the election circle and timetable is so we can imbibe the political culture or attitude that goes with politics. Those who watch football, know I can do very little with the ball, but with Messi and Ronaldo, it’s a different thing altogether because they have practiced over time.
“So, in this election, as time goes on, it will make us better students and make sure that violence does not occur. I thank you all for breaking the campaign trail to listen to us. We hope that the best candidate wins the election and that they make this place a more peaceful state. Let’s all join one political party which is then ‘Great Bayelsa Party (GBP)’.”
In his intervention, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Monday Udoh, noted that INEC was fully prepared for the poll.
He said|: “INEC is doing all it can to ensure people vote without molestation, shortage of materials and malfunctioning card readers. Bayelsa State has done all it is required to do. We had 14 outlined activities. We have done 12. We are receiving materials. They have been batched a long time ago with polling units of 2,244 in the state.æ
“Those materials are leaving for their respective destinations. We have recruited ad-hoc staff, presiding officers among others. There’s an arrangement for both water and road transport. We have a contract with them, and we have met over 95 percent of what we are supposed to do.”
Also, in his remarks at the event which saw over 40 political parties sign a violence-free undertaking, Dickson urged all agencies of the government to also sign their own undertaking to ensure that the election is free and fair.
The governor said: “A peaceful Bayelsa State is not possible without a peaceful and credible election, and in that context, I was wondering why only the political parties and candidates had to sign this lofty undertaking; why not INEC and the Resident Electoral Commissioner, (REC)?
“Why not a representative of the INEC Chairman? Why not the security agencies and why not the Nigerian military? Because our experience has shown that our people are not the problems, our people are often the victims of electoral brigandage and state-sponsored terrorism.
“While we talk about peace, let’s not be deceived or be hypocritical, let’s talk about justice, the propriety of actions; let’s talk about responsibilities on the part of state institutions and practitioners. It would have been nice for REC and INEC to undertake before we do what is right. Our votes will and should count in this state election.”