In anticipation of the upcoming gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, key political contenders have come together to sign a peace accord, promising to ensure a peaceful and violence-free election.
The event, held at the Lady Diama Memorial Event Centre in Yenagoa, the state capital, was facilitated by the National Peace Committee in collaboration with the Kukah Centre.
Notable figures in attendance included Bayelsa State Governor and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party candidate, as well as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, along with 14 other candidates.
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, presided over the peace forum, emphasizing the importance of tolerance and peaceful conduct during the election to ensure its credibility.
Bishop Kukah stated, “Our prayer and our hope is 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 terrible tragedy for anybody to lose their life or be hospitalized.”
However, signs of potential discord within the peace accord emerged as the leading candidates, Douye and Sylva, spoke with journalists after the ceremony. Both candidates exchanged accusations and counter-accusations, hinting at plots to undermine the agreement.
Douye expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the peace accord, saying, “Generally, Nigerians see this as an election ritual because many politicians do not adhere to it. So, it is just a ritual; we come and sign, and the bad politicians among us will continue the violence.”
He also responded to an accusation that he was stockpiling arms in Kolokuma-Opokuma, calling it the “fattest lie of the year” and raising concerns about the peace accord’s efficacy.
Sylva, on the other hand, raised concerns about violence perpetrated by the PDP in Kolokuma-Opokuma and suggested that there were reports of the PDP stoking violence in other areas.
Despite these concerns, Sylva expressed the APC’s commitment to peace and the hope that other parties would adhere to the peace accord.
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