Some governorship candidates have signed an agreement to uphold peace and refrain from making defamatory statements about their fellow candidates, stakeholders and citizens head of the 2023 governorship election in Rivers State.
They also promised to avoid any action that would lead to verbal or physical attack on Rivers people throughout the whole electioneering processes.
The governorship candidates, Tonye Cole (All Progressives Congress), Dawari George (Action Alliance), Magnus Abe (Social Democratic Party), Victor Fingesi (Action Democratic Party), Beatrice Itubo (Labour Party) and Joseph Obele (African Action Congress) made the commitment at a Peace and Security Summit organised by the Rivers Peace Initiative in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
Converner of the Rivers Peace meeting, Obinna Ebogidi, said the initiative was to commit the candidates to conduct peaceful campaigns and elections.
Ebogidi, who is also the Rivers State Focal Point of YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Votes Project, said it was expedient to put the event together ahead of the kick-off of campaigns in order to change the violence narratives often associated with election cycles in the state.
He added that invitation letters were extended to all the governorship candidates in the state.
In his speech at the occasion, the ADP guber candidate, Victor Fingesi, wondered why some candidates would stay away from such an important programme put together to ensure a violence- free polls in the oil-rich state.
Some of those who failed to attend the event are: Siminialaye Fubara of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dumo Lulu-Briggs (Accord Party), Ugo Beke (All Progressives Grand Alliance), Tonte Ibraye(African Democratic Congress), Ekwu Innocent(Allied Peoples Movement), Sam Agwor (New Nigeria Peoples Party), Sobomabo Jackrich (National Rescue Movement), Emiyarei Etete-Sobere (Peoples Redemption Party), Danagogo Wenike Briggs (Young Progressives Party), Leesi Gborobosi (Action Peoples Party).
The six candidates who participated, pledged to play their roles to a peaceful process before, during and after the election and called on their followers to also tow the line of peace which is for the good of all in Rivers State.
The candidates promised to abide by all the rules guiding the electoral process in Nigeria.
The signing of pledge of Peace was witnessed by representatives from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), security agencies, religious bodies and other stakeholders.
Earlier, Professor Sofiri Joab-Peterside of the University of Port Harcourt had delivered a keynote address on the topic: “Violence-free elections as key to economic development in Rivers State”.
The Rivers Peace Initiative is a body made up of Civil Society Organizations, media houses, FIDA, NUJ, and the business community with the sole aim of promoting violence-free elections in Rivers State.