I am delighted to welcome you all to this very important meeting between the various political parties and the Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs.
I know you are still basking in the New Year euphoria, so I use this opportunity to wish you all a happy and prosperous new year.
As we all know this is another election year in Nigeria. In fact the 2019 general elections is less than two months from now and the Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs of which I am the Chairman is concerned about the exercise. Therefore at the last meeting of the council held on 30th November, 2018, it was resolved that I should convene this meeting to express our concern and seek ways of ensuring violence-free successful elections. Indeed, it was for the same reason that I invited all Odionweres, Ohens, Enigie and Chiefs to the Palace last year – about 3-4 months ago when I intimated them on the need to pray fervently for a violence-free election.
We understand that some politicians are procuring weapons and are already recruiting gullible youths as thugs to be used before and during elections. It is our prayer that God and our ancestors help avert violence and mayhem from our land before, during and after the elections.
However, the enduring peace we seek will not be achieved without the support and cooperation of politicians themselves, especially the leaders and candidates of the various political parties.
It must be realised at this point that no one has power of his own. Besides, it is God Almighty the great geometrician of the universe that gives power to anyone, be it political power or spiritual power. So, it will be against God’s wish if anyone tries to achieve political powers through spilling of human blood or killing innocent citizens. The Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs condemn such act in its entirety. The council is against the use of our youths or anybody else to cause violence or disrupt the electoral process.
We wish to advise the youths to be weary of politicians who might come to recruit them as thugs for whatever amount. The youths ought to be wiser now and should not allow politicians use and dump them like rags, while their children and siblings are enjoying the best of life in comfort zones. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The youth should support any candidate of their choice through free, fair and credible elections, and must be ready to demand good governance, transparency and accountability from their elected leaders. This is the way democracy should be practiced in our society. Nigeria being the most populous country and an economic giant in the Sub-Sahara Africa, it will augur well for our dear country to be the leader in democratic practice. Consequently, we urge you all to support good governance, transparency and accountability.
Having said that, let me once again admonish politicians to play the game according to the rules and, should not regard election as a do or die affair. Electioneering is a game where winner and losers must emerge. What is important is that if you do not win in a particular election, you can win in another. The winner must learn to be magnanimous in victory, while the looser must be gallant in accepting defeat. This is one of the ways to show that you are a true patriot.
Politicians should caution their supporters on the need to conduct themselves peacefully and avoid hate speech and hostilities before, during and after elections.
Finally, we advise the electorate to shun vote buying. If you sell your vote, then you will not have any moral justification to demand for good governance, transparency and accountability from elected leaders. So on Election Day, come out in large numbers and peacefully vote for a candidate of your choice.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
Long live Edo State!
Long live Nigeria!
God bless you all.