By Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewaure II, yesterday, read the riot act to politicians in Edo State, especially the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), warning them against setting the state on fire over the September 19 election.
He gave the warning at a peace accord initiated by him and attended by the governorship candidates of the APC and PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Governor Godwin Obaseki, respectively, as well as two former governors of the state, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The Oba stated that he was worried about the violence across the state over the election and stressed that politicians must learn to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.
Noting that elections was not a do or die affair, the Benin monarch urged the politicians to know that they have only Edo State to call their own and thus must do everything 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 pitched the people against themselves.
“Both of you are arming thugs and I worry about what will happen with this weapons after the poll. We are doing our bit Internally; traditional prayers are being offered so that there will be peace during the election.
I want to appeal to the politicians to control the youths, I want the politicians to assure us that there will be peace, you do not kill yourselves over an office.
“This is the worst scenario of all the politics that we have seen in Edo. Edo politics have been in the news for quite sometime now for all the wrong reasons. I have had sleepless nights over this. My mind is burning up over this violence and shooting all over the state; let the shooting stop and let there be peace and quiet in the state.
“Don’t kill yourselves over an office, don’t kill yourselves over votes, let us have a working relationship that President Muhammadu Buhari had with Goodluck Jonathan; It is not a do or die affair. The two candidates must tow the line of peace just like Jonathan did when he willingly announced his acceptance of defeat in 2015. This singular act changed the prediction of international community that Nigeria will break up as a result of that elections. “We are begging you politicians, particularly the two political gladiators. You must all do your bit to calm down the tension in the state”, the Oba said.
He reiterated that the traditional institution remained non-partisan and warned the Dukes (Enigies) 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, I would have already taken side. If any of them (Dukes) makes any statement, they are only taking your money and cannot do anything beyond what the palace want. They are not speaking for me or the palace, they are only speaking for themselves”, the Oba said.
Earlier, the royal father, expressed disappointment over the strained relationship between Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki, noting that both had cordial relationship that once existed between them.
The two candidates, Governor Obaseki of the PDP and Pastor Ize-Iyamu of the APC, in their responses, gave their assurances to the monarch and promised to ensure that their supporters would conduct themselves in a peaceful manner henceforth.
Specifically, Governor Obaseki commended the Oba for his fatherly role and 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 destruction of lives and properties”.
He said he was as worried as the monarch over what is happening in the state but assured the Oba that he would do all within his power to see that there is peace in the state.
On his part, Ize-Iyamu said he would ensure that his supporters conduct themselves in a peaceful manner through out the remaining campaign and during the election.
Also speaking, ex-governor Adams Oshiomhole said as a product of peaceful elections, he would not deviate from that which would lead to peaceful election.
In his comment, former national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun expressed shock on how the whole political crisis in APC degenerated to the present state and promised to work for peace of the state.