Romanus Ugwu, Akure
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the party candidates and electorate for the Ondo state governorship election not to lower the standard set during the November 26, 2016 election, expressing concerns over rising pre-election tension in the state.
The Commission’s chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke at the signing of the Peace Accord by the political parties and candidates for this weekend’s poll reminded them the standard set during the last election was responsible for the zero post-election litigation.
He further noted that the pre-election charged atmosphere demands political parties and candidates affirming, respecting, supporting, promoting and committing to peaceful elections, describing them as the five pillars on which the Peace Accord rests.
According to him: ‘Today, we are honoured by the esteemed presence of the Sultan of Sokoto His Eminence Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and other eminent members of the NPC.
‘By your continuous and consistent engagement for peace in Nigeria, you have once again demonstrated that moral suasion is as important as a statutory authority in promoting peaceful co-existence and nation-building.
‘Working with civil society organisations and other stakeholders, INEC will continue to support the good work of the Committee for peaceful elections in Nigeria.
‘Only three weeks ago in Benin City, political parties and candidates for the Edo State Governorship election signed the Peace Accord. The intervention of the NPC no doubt contributed in no small way to the peaceful conduct of the election whose outcome has been adjudged as credible.
‘Unfortunately, the Ondo State governorship election holding this Saturday is generating its own tensions. The charged atmosphere demands that political parties and candidates should affirm, respect, support, promote and commit to peaceful elections which, I understand, are the five cardinal pillars on which the Peace Accord rests.
‘Without peace, our deployment plans, new innovations in result management, the safety of personnel, security of materials and, above all, the credibility of elections will be undermined.
‘Even worse, public health will be jeopardised as the observance of safety protocols in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic will be impossible to achieve in an atmosphere of disruption, violence and disorder. It is, therefore, important for everyone to maintain peace.
‘I wish to assure the Peace Committee of INEC’s commitment to transparent and credible elections. The votes will count. I call on all political parties and candidates to abide by the letter and spirit of the Peace Accord by appealing to your supporters to maintain the peace before, during and after the elections.
‘This will be your own way of showing commitment to the Peace Accord and appreciation for the work of the Peace Committee. I wish to note that some of the candidates contesting in the governorship election were also candidates in the last election held four years ago on November 26, 2016.
‘You will recall that the election was free, fair and credible. You may also recall that it was perhaps the only governorship election in the history of Ondo State since 2003 whose outcome was not challenged at the Election Petition Tribunal.
‘This is in spite of the fact that three of the contestants were senior lawyers. With this record and the recent peaceful conduct of the Edo State Governorship election, I implore you all and your supporters to conduct yourselves peacefully and not lower the bar,’ he appealed.