By Peters Monday, Abuja
Following the November 11 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, political parties and their governorship candidates, on Wednesday, signed a peace accord pledging to ensure a peaceful and violence-free election in the state come Saturday.
Congress learnt that the Bayelsa State Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, and fourteen others signed the peace accord at Lady Diana Memorial event centre, Yenagoa, the state capital.
It was gathered the event was facilitated by the National Peace Committee, in conjunction with the Kukah Centre.
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, who presided over the peace forum, enjoined the people of the state to imbibe a tolerant disposition during the poll to engender a peaceful and credible exercise.
Kukah, who represented the National Chairman of the National Peace Committee, NPC, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, said: “I want to enjoin you and call upon you to please ensure that we all imbibe the spirit that only the living can participate in politics, and enjoy the dividends of democracy.
“Our prayer and we hope that this election will go on peacefully. I want to add my voice, vote to stay alive, vote to see a great Bayelsa and Nigeria.
“It will be a tragedy for anybody to lose his life or to be hospitalized. Let’s conduct ourselves in a way and manner that will finally make the judiciary which has become the subject of law of litigation redundant. And the only way we can do this is to conduct a free, fair and credible election.”
However, an indication that the peace accord may be violated emerged when the frontline gladiators, Douye and Sylva, spoke with journalists shortly after the ceremony.
Both candidates traded accusations and counter-accusations of plots to undermine the peace accord.
Diri noted: “Generally Nigerians are seeing this as an election ritual because a lot of politicians do not keep to it. So it is just a ritual, we come and sign and the bad politicians among us will continue the violence.
“I have just been informed that the former governor of the state who you interviewed has accused me (Douye Diri of stockpiling arms in Kolokuma-Opokuma. That should be the fattest lie of the year and that shows that this peace accord is going to be ineffectual. If a man chooses to tell lies even in the face of this peace accord, then something is wrong in our polity.
“I was embarrassed when I got that information. Everybody knows in this state those who are given to violence and the flash red point and I think that the candidate of the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva may have stockpiled arms in Kolokuma-Opokuma and I have called on the security agencies to immediately swing into action to see if Timipre Sylva is bringing the devilish actions he has been taking in Nembe where he has disallowed the people of Nembe to participate in democratic electoral peaceful process.
“And we in Kolokuma will never accept that from him, I am one person that all of you will at least know that the peace in this state is because the body language of the governor is peaceful. The body language of the governor is security and so the issue of my commitment does not arise here.”
Sylva had earlier added: “The APC today has come to demonstrate that we are committed to peace in Bayelsa State but we must say that we are not very comfortable with the disposition of our opponent.
“There has been a lot of violence perpetrated by PDP in Kolokuma-Opokuma and this morning, I was told that they were stoking violence in other places. But am happy that the peace accord will make all of us stand back. I think it is a very important step that we have taken.
“For us in APC we are very happy that this is happening because we have always stood for peace and we hope that other parties will also obey and abide by the peace accord.
“Having signed it, we believe that it will at least jolt everybody not to do what they have planned to do because we hear all kinds of an imported from all over the place, Rivers and Delta to Bayelsa.”