Governor of Sokoto State and Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, his Edo State counterpart and PDP candidate in the September 19 gubernatorial election, Mr. Godwin Obaseki have called on political actors in Edo State to shun violence and embrace peace in the forthcoming gubernatorial poll.
The charge was also re-echoed by the Chairman, Edo PDP Campaign Council and Deputy Chairman, PDP South-south, Chief Dan Orbih, who insisted that the election must be free and fair.
They urged leaders of various political parties contesting the governorship election in the state to appeal to their supporters to be law-abiding, peaceful and ensure violence-free electioneering.
Speaking to journalists after the party’s stakeholders’ meeting held in Benin City, on Thursday, Tambuwal noted: “I am appealing to both sides and also to leaders of the various political parties participating in the governorship election to continue to encourage their supporters to restrain from unleashing mayhem and violence on the electorate.
“This appeal has become necessary following a small crowd of a political party that came to the Benin Monarch’s palace to boo leaders and supporters of the PDP during the flag-off of our campaign. That is a sign that the political party is planning violence.”
“I appeal to leaders of the various political parties with the interest of Edo State at heart, to speak with their followers and make sure the election is free and fair,” the governor added.
Warning against plans to use security agencies to rig the forthcoming election, Tambuwal added: “We have seen cases where federal might was used in isolated elections in Nigeria through the deployment of security personnel to such a state to intimidate voters, instead of taking them to North-East where the country is facing serious security challenges. This must not be done in Edo State.”
He further called on PDP members in the state to put aside their differences and come together to win the September 19 governorship election, adding: “the party has a transformed political process that revolves around the people. No single individual owns the PDP.
“Don’t allow intimidation of any kind but rather come out en masse to vote; ensure you protect your votes and by God’s grace PDP will win the election.”
On his part, Obaseki said his administration is not weak in responding to political violence but as governor, he will use state powers with discretion and moderation.
“I am not weak as a Governor but I believe in respecting human rights,” he said.
On the attacks on PDP supporters in front of the palace of the Oba of Benin, Obaseki said his administration is doing all within the ambits of the law to ensure that perpetrators of the dastardly act are apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law.
“I believe my powers should be used responsibly, particularly in the face of provocation, and especially what the other party did in the palace by attacking our supporters in an attempt to provoke me,” he added.
The Governor said Edo is a PDP state and expressed confidence that the party will win the forthcoming election.
He added: “If we have an election today in the state, PDP will win by 75 per cent. PDP has always won every national election in Edo State.”
Meanwhile, Chief Orbih said the campaign team will commence a tour of the 18 local government areas to meet with Edo electorate so as to get their blessings for the governor’s re-election bid.
“The visit is not purely for campaign but also to commission completed projects and inspection of on-going projects across the state. We will let Edo people know and see the progress of the governor in his first term and give a projection for his re-election,” he added.
In his remarks,the PDP State Chairman, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi, said the party had 20,000 membership cards but upon the defection of Governor Obaseki to the party, the demand rose to over 100,000 cards, noting that more requests are currently being processed.