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Edo poll: Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu sign peace pact

Ahead of this weekend’s gubernatorial election in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his All Progressives Congress (APC) rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday, committed to a violence-free exercise.

The pledge was made during the signing of a truce deal brokered by Chairman of National Peace Committee, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah, in Benin City.

Addressing the candidates, the former Head of State encouraged them to accept the outcome of the poll, warning that any violation of the agreement calls their integrity to question.

He advised all parties to adopt a code of conduct that promotes consultation, because according to him, “only this will reduce the adversarial relationship that often develops during campaign.”

Abubakar went on “By agreeing to sign this covenant of peace, all of you are committing yourselves to an enduring peace in Nigeria and Edo State before, during and after the elections. You are also agreeing to look beyond short-term electoral gain, sectional interest or narrow party advantage, and accepting to focus on nothing but the development of Edo State.

“I urge all the stakeholders to commit to the spirit of the accord while also remembering that a violation of this accord is putting your integrity on the line. You are signing this as people who are to be taken for your words. We are calling on everyone to work towards ensuring a peaceful election.”

Obaseki, who is seeking reelection, while speaking asked the NPC to reach out to some political actors whom he said wield much influence and are interested in the election.

The governor explained that the move is necessary in order not to let the exercise end in futility.

“I want to commit publicly once again that I will live by the letter and spirit of the accord that has just been signed,” Obaseki said.

“Before leaving the stage, I want to appeal to the National Peace Committee not to end their work with the signing of this accord.

“There are other actors in the political space who will have and exercise influence in the political space and also elections to reach out to them to persuade them about the importance of this accord we have just signed.”

On his part, Ize-Iyamu pledged that his party leaders will talk to their supporters to eschew violence before, during and after the polls.

“Let me reaffirm to our commitment to what has been signed and to reassure Nigerians that and particularly our people in Edo State that we will talk to all our supporters,” Ize-Iyamu said.

“We will conduct ourselves peacefully. We will do all our best to ensure that the election is peaceful.”

He commended Ewuare II, Oba of Benin, for his efforts to promote peace, especially during the election.

Meanwhile, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who was also at event, assured the electorate of his organisation’s neutrality, stating that Edo people only would determine who becomes their next governor.

Earlier, Bishop Kukah while speaking said the pact should not be seen as a mere ceremony, adding that the project was of great national and international significance.

“For me as a priest, I liken this to an exchange of vows. You are committing yourselves, and we are only witnesses. As you read from the words of the accord, it is a trust you are taking upon yourselves and a commitment you are making to the people of Nigeria and all those around the world,” he said.

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