Valentine Ozigbo, the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2021 Anambra governorship election, has advocated for a violence-free process as the electorates of the southeastern state exercise elect a new governor on November 6.
Mr Ozigbo made the declaration on Thursday, October 14, 2021, when he hosted a delegation from the ‘Vote Not Fight: Election No Be War’ campaign, consisting of officials from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), National Democratic Institute (NDI), The 2Baba Foundation, and the Catch Them Young Community Initiative (CATYCOI).
The contingent, which was led by Nigerian music icon, Innocent ‘2Baba’ Idibia, also included Bem Aga, NDI’s Programmes Manager; Tracy Keshi, NDI’s Programme Officer; Nonso Orakwe, the Executive Director of CATYCOI; and Israel Orji, the Programme Manager of CATYCOI.
At the meeting held at Bon Hotel, Awka, Ozigbo hailed 2Baba and the Vote Not Fight campaign for their consistency and the importance of the message of peace and non-violent electioneering.
“I am profoundly grateful, not just for this meeting, but for the opportunity to meet my friend and brother, 2Baba, to discuss a crucial issue that can change the course of the black race,” ozigbo said.
“I am offering to serve my people to change our story for good, and we can only actualise this is through a proper leadership recruitment process. Democracy is not flawed by its principle but in the way, we practice it.
“Long before I ventured into politics, I have always advocated for us to ensure that incompetent people do not emerge as the candidate of any party. This way, whoever emerges victorious at the polls will be a win-win for the people.
“So when we have social interventions like this, it helps to send the proper signal, create the right awareness, and hopefully educate the populace, the candidates, and the party so that they can civilly conduct themselves.
“When I was vying for my party’s ticket, I insisted on not discussing other aspirants because a peaceful election starts from the body language, friendship and camaraderie between the major political players.
“Unfortunately, Anambra is taking a new turn with the alarming rate of insecurity in the state. I am using this opportunity to urge everyone, including those causing havoc, to allow peace reign.
“I stand for a free and fair process. I have never asked anyone to rig on my behalf to take any action that will disenfranchise others because I know that the competent candidate will emerge when the process is credible.
“I am confident that under a free and fair process that I, Valentine Ozigbo, will emerge as the next governor of Anambra State, but we must ensure the election is peaceful and violence-free.
“I am happy with what INEC has done so far, but they must up their game regarding social awareness. There’s a narrative out there that some people are planning on rigging the election. I can assure you that it is impossible to rig this election.
“With the introduction of e-VAS by INEC and electronic transmission of results, all plans to rig have failed. But we need this message to reach Ndi Anambra at the grassroots, so they are assured that their votes will count.
“When this is achieved, we will have an election where the people come out to vote and be part of the governance process. It will help us deepen our democracy in Nigeria and ensure that the right person emerges.
“I will also be speaking to my supporters to ensure that the election is peaceful, don’t fight for me; God will fight for me. Stand your ground and make sure you deliver your polling booths.
In his remarks, Idibia hailed Mr Ozigbo for offering to serve the people for the state, urging the multiple award-winning CEO to champion the charge for a violent-free election.
“Everybody knows that Mr Val is a friend of the entertainment industry, so to see him emerge as the candidate of his state is quite encouraging,” Idibia said.
“The Vote Not Fight movement has always been about non-partisanship and urging political parties and candidates to encourage their supporters to embrace peace and discourage violent electoral conduct.
“It is a powerful message that holds more water when it comes from you. We are here to encourage decent voter behaviour.
“Vote Not Fight is a campaign that has been here since 2014. So far, the level of election-related violence has reduced, and although it has not been eradicated, we are encouraged by the progress we have made so far and hopefully it becomes a thing of the past.
Idibia further wished Mr Ozigbo well in his bid to lead Anambra State before the pair signed a peace pledge card to compliment their declaration to advocate for a peaceful election.
Valentine Ozigbo is the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc. He is also an entertainment industry mogul and a nationally recognised patron of the Nigerian creative industry. He executively produced one of Nigeria’s highest grossing movies of all time, ‘Merry Men 2’.