The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has urged politicians, the electorates and other critical stakeholders in the forthcoming 2019 general elections to ensure peaceful conduct of the polls in the state.
Obaseki made the call while delivering a keynote address at the Pre-election Security Stakeholders’ Townhall Meeting, themed: ‘That We May Have Peaceful Election in Edo State,’ held at Imaguero College Hall, in Benin City, on Monday.
The governor said his administration has resolved to contribute its quota to the development and deepening of the country’s democracy by ensuring that the state and Nigeria experience a peaceful, transparent, free, fair and credible elections.
“Our goal as a government is to help to advance democratic values, ethics, and practices so that in years to come, democracy will be entrenched in the country. Election is the most significant ingredient in democratic process that enables citizens and electorate to determine who will lead them at every level of government,” he said.
Obaseki noted that the threat posed by electoral violence often affects the outcome of elections, urging critical stakeholders to play their roles in ensuring that the country’s democracy is deepened and strengthened by upholding practices and actions that promote peace and unity.
He said, “As a state, we are totally committed to changing the political narrative as we are a state with a long history of education and civilisation. We are determined to mitigate threats to our political evolution. It is only in the last twenty years in the history of Nigeria that the country has been able to sustain one particular system of government.”
Speaking at the meeting, Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, said the Police Command and other security agencies in the state are fully prepared to protect life and property and combat violence before, during and after the 2019 elections.
He said, “We are alleviating fears of electorates in the state and we are assuring them of water-tight security. We will man the polling units from Thursday, February 14 to ensure we effectively carry out our duties.”
Odumosu urged religious, traditional and political leaders as well as parents to sensitise their subjects on the need to play by the rules guiding the conduct of elections.
A representative of the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Lieutenant Col. Gbenga Owojaiye, said the office of the NSA has come up with measures to ensure peaceful conduct of the elections across the country.
Owojaiye suggested that the state should adopt measures which include setting up a crisis center and reporting portal and ensure the need for a continuous risk assessment, to monitor and manage security issues before, during and after the polls.
He added that the Office of the NSA has conducted risk assessment across the 18 local government areas in the state ahead of the elections and assured that the report would be submitted to security agencies in the state.
In his welcome address, Edo State Head of Service, Mr. Isaac Ehiozuwa, said the meeting was organised to proffer, interrogate and tackle salient issues relating to the conduct of the polls.
“This government, since inception, has worked very hard to ensure the security of life and property in the state. However, this election period requires special attention and we are saying that elections should be violence-free. As good citizens, we should abide by the rules guiding the conduct of elections.”
Edo Resident Electoral Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Alex Hart, commended the state government for organising the town hall meeting, adding that it was apt to educate relevant stakeholders on the need to ensure peaceful polls.
The Commissioner, who was represented by Head of Election and Party monitoring, Mr. Kombo Briggs, said INEC has held similar meetings with political parties and security agencies, noting that over 100 security personnel have been trained on the election conduct and coverage.