…As Benin Monarch Warns Politicians Not to Set State on Fire Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki and his major challenger, Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday, warmly embraced each other for the first time in many months, at a meeting called as part of trouble shooting effort, to calm frayed nerves over the threats of violence
…As Benin Monarch Warns Politicians Not to Set State on Fire
Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki and his major challenger, Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday, warmly embraced each other for the first time in many months, at a meeting called as part of trouble shooting effort, to calm frayed nerves over the threats of violence and hot words, that have characterised the governorship campaign.
Before the meeting of the key political actors at the Oba of Benin palace on Wednesday, there have been weeks of heated tension in the state as a result of the activities of the two leading political parties in Edo, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
The Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, took a bold step to end the trend of violence in the State, with the series of attacks and counter-attacks during campaign rallies.
The peace meeting had the presence of various leaders of the PDP and the APC in Edo at his palace.
The immediate past Governor of the State, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, his predecessor, Mr John Oyegun, the PDP candidate, Obaseki, the APC flag bearer, Ize-Iyamu, and the State Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shaibu, among other political actors, were the notable faces at the meeting.
Obaseki and his main challenger, Ize-Iyamu went before the monarch to pay homage shortly after all the attendees were seated.
The Oba urged all political actors in the state to sheath their swords and demanded words of assurance that peace would be maintained before, during, and after the election.
The monarch asked the political office seekers to emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan who conceded defeat to President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 general elections even before the results were announced.
“To me, they (the political actors in Edo) are all one family, and what cannot be resolved when you are all family?
“Family can quarrel but there must be a resolution. Today, that is what I want us to achieve; there must be a resolution,” the monarch stated.
In their various responses, the Governor and his main challenger promised the Oba that they would make peace their watchword going forward.
“I want to assure you, Your Majesty, that in my role as the Chief Security Officer of the state, I am doing all I can, all within my possible best to maintain peace and safety in Edo State,” Obaseki told the Oba of Benin.
Ize-Iyamu, on his part, said, “Every campaign we do henceforth, we are going to spend some time to also talk to all of them (party supporters) about the need to keep to the peace, no matter what provocation they might talk about.”
At this point, the PDP candidate, Mr Obaseki and his APC flag bearer, Mr Ize-Iyamu came together and embraced each other, in a bid to send out a message to their supporters and make good the assurances given to the traditional ruler.
Earlier, the Oba Ewaure II warned politicians against setting the state on fire.
“The warning is especially for the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” the monarch said at the peace meeting.
Oba Ewaure said he was worried about the violence across the state over the poll, and urged politicians to learn to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.
While noting that election was not a do or die affair, he advised politicians to note that they had only Edo to call their own state and must, thus, do everything to protect it from disintegration.
He regretted that Edo had not only been in the news for the wrong reasons, but that the governorship election had pitted the people against themselves.
“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 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 the 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 election.
“We are begging you politicians, particularly the two political gladiators. You must all do your bit to calm down the tension in the state,” he said.
The monarch maintained that the traditional institution remained non-partisan, and warned the palace chiefs 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 the chiefs 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 response, the candidates of both the PDP and APC, Mr Godwin Obaseki and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, gave their assurances to the monarch and promised to ensure that their supporters conducted themselves peacefully.
The governor, who commended the monarch for his fatherly role, said he took an oath to protect the people and it would be irresponsible of him to do otherwise.
He said he was as worried as the monarch over what was happening in the state, and assured him that he would do all within his power to ensure peace prevailed.
Similarly, Ize-Iyamu said he would ensure that his supporters conducted themselves in a peaceful manner throughout the remaining campaign and during the election.
On his part, Oshiomhole said he was a product of peaceful elections and would not deviate from that path.