Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, yesterday rebuked politicians in the state, particularly the governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, for the pre-election violence and belligerent electioneering utterances, threatening to tear the state apart ahead of the September 19 election.
However, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Johnson Kokumo, has assured the monarch and the people of adequate security, saying there’s no cause for alarm.
“The utterances, statements and activities that I hear [are] most immature,” the revered monarch told the two leading candidates and their promoters, including former governors John Odigie-Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole, in subdued anger during a peace meeting in his palace in Benin.
The Benin monarch at the meeting initiated by him said there were talks about the candidates of the two major parties arming thugs. He warned them to desist from the act and expressed worry about what the guns would be used for after the election.
Oba Ewuare II, who said he was worried about the violence across the state over the September 19 poll, stated that politicians must learn to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner, noting that the election was not a do-or-die affair.
He admonished the parties and politicians to note that they have only Edo State to call their own and must do everything possible to protect it from disintegration.
He said not only has the state been in the news for the wrong reasons, but that the governorship election has divided the people.
The first-class monarch said: “I have noted that Benin’s politics has been in the news for quite sometimes for all the wrong reasons. I have been having sleepless nights for some days. We are all from Edo State. We are no strangers.
“Why do you want lives to be lost by arming thugs, who will later hide the guns? Enough is enough. Let the September 19 governorship election in Edo State be peaceful.
“Be mature and be proud of Edo State. Do not make Edo State a laughing stock.”
He added: “I am very sad about what is happening in Edo State. This is the worst scenario. Let us eschew violence and give peace a chance in Edo State.
“I cannot have you fighting. I want to plead with the politicians and the political actors to sheathe their swords because the international community is watching.”
He said the monarchy had offered traditional prayers to avert violence before, during and after the September 19 governorship election in Edo State and pleaded with Edo politicians to control the youths.
“Don’t kill yourselves over an office; don’t kill yourselves overvotes; let us have a working relationship that President Muhammadu Buhari had with Goodluck Jonathan; it is not a do-or-die affair,” he said, adding: “The two candidates must toe the line of peace just like Jonathan did when he willingly announced his acceptance of defeat in 2015.”
Oba Ewuare added that Jonathan’s conceding victory to Buhari changed the prediction of the international community that Nigeria would break up due to the 2015 elections.
The Benin monarch urged the politicians, particularly the two political gladiators to calm down the tension in the state. He stated that the traditional institution remained non-partisan and warned the dukes against making any political statement.
“I have already sacrificed my franchise over this because if I do cast my vote in favour of a particular candidate, that means I have picked a party I want to support.
“If any of them (dukes) makes any statement, they are only taking your money and cannot do anything beyond what the palace wants. They are not speaking for me or the palace, they are only speaking for themselves,” he stated.
In their responses, Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu assured the monarch that they would promote peace and promised to ensure that their supporters conduct themselves in a peaceful manner henceforth.
Obaseki, who commended the monarch for his fatherly role, said: “I have sworn on oath to protect the people and it will be irresponsible of me to do otherwise, especially that which can lead to the destruction of lives and property.”
He said he was as worried as the monarch over what was happening in the state.
He assured the monarch that he would strive to see that there’s peace in the state.
Ize-Iyamu said he would ensure that his supporters conduct themselves in a peaceful manner throughout the remaining campaign and during the election.
Oshiomhole said, as a product of peaceful elections, he would not deviate from that which would lead to a peaceful poll, assuring the monarch that they would heed his counsel.
Ahead of the governorship election, the state police commissioner has assured the people of adequate security, saying there’s no cause for alarm.
He gave the assurance while briefing Oba Ewuare on security during the election. Kokumo said maximum security would be provided before, during and after the gubernatorial election despite the seeming rising tension in the state.
He explained that adequate measures have been put in place to forestall violence and breakdown of law and order.
The CP said anyone found wanting, irrespective of position would be made to face the wrath of the law.
He said the police had joined forces with other security agencies including the military to ensure violence-free poll.
The Benin royal father expressed disappointment over the failure of the Department of State Services (DSS) to gather intelligence on the clash of some youths loyal to the two main political parties near the palace weeks ago.
While charging DSS and other security agencies to wake up to their responsibilities, Oba Ewuare blamed the underperformance of security agencies on poor funding.
Daily Times gathered that the monarch also urged youths not to allow themselves to be used as sacrificial lambs.