Valentine Ozigbo, the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the November 6 governorship election, has demonstrated his commitment to ensuring a peaceful election as he signed a peace accord ahead of Saturday’s election.
The National Peace Committee and several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) organised the event which held at the Dora Akunyili Women Development Center, Awka, on Thursday, November 4, 2021.
While addressing journalists on the sidelines of the exercise, Mr Ozigbo urged his followers to conduct themselves peacefully and vote without violence.
“We are here to sign an accord that will ensure that no life is lost as we go to the polls to elect a new leader for our dear state,” Ozigbo, the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc said.
“I plead with my followers, come out en masse, conduct yourself peacefully, because victory is assured. All the security agencies have deployed personnel to ensure that this election holds without violence,” Ozigbo, the favourite to win the Anambra guber election, said.
While addressing the gathering, the Chairman of the National Peace Committee, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd), acknowledged that Nigerian elections have historically been associated with pockets of various degrees of violence.
Gen Abubakar, who once served as Nigeria’s Head of State, maintained that the signing of the peace accord was not a mere formality but a binding commitment to ensure that the election holds without violence and loss of lives.
“We have a responsibility to deepen the culture of democracy in Nigeria, and this can only happen when there is peace and stability,” Gen Abubakar said.
“We seize this opportunity to call on the candidates and their supporters to accept the outcome of the votes as far as the election is adjudged to be free, fair, and credible.”
In his brief remarks, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said the exercise was important as it confirms the candidates’, political parties’ and stakeholders’ commitment to a peaceful process.
Therefore, the INEC Chairman urged all parties to abide by the stipulations of the peace accord, assuring that the election result will reflect the wishes of the people of the Anambra State.
Also speaking at the event, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, who DIG Joseph Egbunike represented, assured that the police and other security agencies would be calm, firm and professional in carrying out their duties.
“I am asking for Ndi Anambra to rise to the occasion. Anambra has always been known as a peaceful state, and this is the time to unite Anambra. We are ready to give Anambra to best, and those who propagate violence will be brought to book,” DIG Egbunike said.
In his closing remarks, the Convener of the National Peace Committee, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, thanked the candidates for gracing the occasion with their presence.
Bishop Kukah, who is the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, urged the people of Anambra State to remain committed to peaceful elections.
“Bloodshed has no place in electioneering processes. The past few elections in the country have been relatively violence-free, and I urge the people of Anambra State to continue on this path. If we remain committed to this cause, in a few years, we will conduct elections without fear of violence,” the respected cleric stated.
Several religious bodies and CSOs were present at the event, including the Anambra State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the Vote Not Fight Group, Not Too Young To Run and several others.
Valentine Ozigbo is a respected business leader and nationally recognised peace advocate. His non-profit organisation, the Valentine Chineto Ozigbo (VCO) Foundation, has organised several peace-building initiatives, including the #Walk4Peace initiative, which attracted over 3,000 Anambra indigenes.