Jonathan, Dickson, Alaibe, Others Warn Against Violence Ahead Bayelsa Election

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson and other Ijaw leaders Wednesday warned politicians against depl...

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson and other Ijaw leaders Wednesday warned politicians against deploying violence as part of their strategies to win the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

Jonathan and other Ijaw leaders including a former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) spoke at a workshop on credible governorship election and good governance organised in Yenagoa, the state capital by the Ijaw Elders’ Forum (IEF) with a theme, Building Consensus through Ijaw Charter and Ijaw Nation Code of Ethics, Leadership and Governance.

Speaking at the event organised in collaboration with the Ijaw Professional Association (IPA), G24 Embasara Foundation and Ijaw Women Connect (IWC), Jonathan, who was a special guest of honour said no nation in the world had developed through violence.
He said: “So, if Bayelsa state must develop there must be peace in this state and we must start from the political process because most of the criminal gangs that have emerged in this state grew through political activities, we the politicians use them as boys and thugs and at the end of the election it becomes a problem to manage them.

“So, for those, who want to rule they must try as much as they can to play down violence. If God wants you to be our governor or hold any office in government is not because of the gun you carried, don’t be deceived that it is because of the arms you carried, it is the will of God.

“This group Ijaw Elders forum and others should encourage us to meet from time to time, so that it comes a time that we shall stand and tell anyone who wants to govern us that we can’t accept this structure”.

The former President insisted that Bayelsa must be peaceful to attract investors and hailed Dickson’s investment on education.

He said: “I appreciate what the government of this state is doing especially in the area of education; educating our youth is even more important than the road because if we don’t educate them some of them will turn criminals and I agree with him totally on the issue of education in the state.

“What do you leave behind? Sometimes is not about the big houses you build or the money you have but how creative you are, what innovation you bring to government, what are the privileges we have, it must go beyond power, everyone is a leader as long as you can influence another person then you are a leader; you don’t need to be a president or governor so all of us are leaders”.

Jonathan further decried incapacitation of local government areas by state governments saying the situation had made them unable to discharge their functions.

“Politically we should start at our local government levels because if our local governments are not functioning as local government even just to clean and cut grass they are waiting for state governor to go over and clean-up which is not right.

“Immediately the candidates are well defined I think we should have a forum where all of them will be with us, they must in our presence tell us that they will not use violence for the election because nobody expects us to praise him as the governor of Bayelsa state if one person dies,” he said.

In his remarks, Dickson, who was represented by his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd) highlighted the achievements of his administration in all the sectors and called on the next government of the state to push for restructuring.

He said: “The next government must push for restructuring where the federal government collects taxes from the resources in the Niger Delta. One person cannot be a leader; it is a collective role that should be played by everyone. The essence of government is to provide service to the people and anyone coming should build on the Foundation that they have seen”.

In his remarks, Alaibe seized the opportunity to explain why he abandoned his governorship ambition in the past at the middle of the contest saying it was borne out of his desire to avoid bloodshed.

He said: “You will recall that since 2002 when I stepped into the political arena in Bayelsa State, I have had to pull back a few times in the middle of the contest – not out of timidity, weakness or lack of support base to win elections. Far from it!

“I have always taken such a decision when it became clear that for me to achieve my goal, I will have to swim in the blood of fellow citizens – by matching violence with violence. Instead of this, I have always chosen the path of peace at the risk of my political career.

“Why should I create orphans and widows just because I want political power? In the words of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan: is my personal ambition worth the blood of a fellow Ijaw man? The answer is no.

“My position has always been that politics or election is not worth dying and killing for. It is not war. Seeking election to public office does not mean we should kill anyone who stands in our way.

“Seeking election to public office means convincing opposing elements with superior arguments. We must not kill the electorate to win election. We can only persuade the electorate to have their votes”.

Alaibe argued that one of the factors that determined credibility of an election was non-violence during the campaigns and the actual voting adding that elections would be devoid of violence with the enthronement of right leaders.

He said: “The question is: Why should a true Ijaw man murder a fellow Ijaw man just because he wants to win an election? Why should anyone procure arms and train people to kill their fellow human beings so as to pave way for their rise to power? Why would anyone desire to swim in the blood of fellow Ijaw men and women so as to attain exalted political offices? This is not just an abomination but an aberration.

“From our recent history, we have witnessed detonation of explosives at political campaign grounds, campaign offices and homes of political leaders and perceived political opponents. You are aware that I was, more than once, a victim of such senseless attack.

“The bloodshed and killings in the last elections was another example of disgraceful acts of violence. It must never happen again. We must decide today to be decent in our campaigns, voting and in our reaction to the final election results.

“Election to public offices must be based on acceptability by the electorate. That acceptability is a product of popularity of ideas. Election must not be contested and won based on superiority of violence but on superiority of ideas. Ideas speak to the heart of the people. Ideas generate transformation. Violence brings about torture and death. The result of violence is bloodshed and tears.

“Election must not be contested and won based on the much-touted federal might. It must be contested and won based on the freewill of the voters. Every politics is local. Voters must not be intimidated by threat of violence. We must resolve today to depart from this path. Every democratic society is tailored after the ideological concept of freedom, welfare, equality, solidarity and progress”.

He added: “One way to stop election violence is to conceive an appropriate technology to support the human effort. Our lawmakers must come up with required legislations to ensure that voters buy into modern methods of electoral activities devoid of human errors. When this happens, rigging will be eliminated. Undue human involvement in electoral processes will be reduced. Violence will be minimised.

“Our people must not be killed because they want to elect leaders of their choice by exercising their constitutional rights. We as politicians must learn from the errors of the past. Enough is enough. I am on the side of free and fair elections in November 2019. I am on the side of election without violence in November 2019”.

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