In light of the looming threat of violence ahead of the November 11 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, a coalition of Ijaw interest groups has voiced their concern over politically motivated killings occurring in various parts of the state. They have passionately appealed to all parties involved to shun violence and prioritize peace throughout the electoral process.
The coalition has extended its counsel to the youth, imploring them not to be manipulated into causing harm to one another on behalf of politicians.
A statement, jointly signed by the Secretary of the Ijaw Elders Forum, Mr. Efiye Bribena, on behalf of the coalition, urges the people of Bayelsa State not to compromise their principles by selling their votes. Instead, they should focus on selecting the most qualified candidate who will champion good governance in the best interest of all citizens.
The statement reads, in part: “We are deeply troubled by recent politically motivated violence in certain areas of our state. This does not reflect our identity as Bayelsans. Therefore, we strongly denounce these acts of politically motivated violence and call upon all politicians to cease from supporting any actions that could jeopardize peace before, during, or after the election.”
The group emphasizes that elections should not be a life-or-death struggle in their beloved state. They advocate for political maturity, urging candidates to gain voter support through campaigning and the presentation of their policy platforms. All forms of violence should be avoided in both their messages and conduct.
The citizens should be free to exercise their civic duties without fear, intimidation, or bribery. The group advises all candidates to restrain their supporters from engaging in violence. Bayelsa State should not become a battleground or a theater of war due to an election.
The coalition underscores the importance of selecting a governor with qualities such as character, competence, conscience, capacity, courage, credibility, and accountability.
Furthermore, the group calls upon the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies, and political parties participating in the election to maintain impartiality, fairness, firmness, and uphold democratic principles throughout the electoral process.