President Muhammadu Buhari has advised political parties, candidates and security agents to behave responsibly in the forthcoming Edo State gubernatorial elections.
The President in a message to voters, political parties, election officials and security personnel, reiterated his stance that, “I am passionately committed to free and fair elections, but my own commitment is not enough if other actors at ground zero refuse to abide by the rules.”
Despite the President’s position, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP( National Campaign Council for Edo Governorship election has accused his party All Progressives Congress (APC) of attempt “to hide under the guise of disbursement of Micro Enterprise Enhancement Scheme (MEES) to swindle the people of Edo state and violate their conscience ahead of the September 19 election”.
According to the ruling party in Edo State, the alleged APC measure has further exposed the fact that the ruling party at the centre has lost confidence in the ability of its candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to command any genuine vote on Saturday, adding that the move will achieve nothing..
Meanwhile President Buhari says, “I want to see democratic standards in the country raised higher at every level, but these cannot be achieved when politicians resort to do or die methods to gain power by any means or machination.”
He said that “the do-or-die mentality to politics is a threat to free and fair elections because the actors are more focused on winning than caring about a fair outcome that reflects the Will of the people.”
The President appealed to all political parties and their candidates to behave peacefully and respect law and order. He also advised election officials and security agents “to remain neutral to ensure free and fair elections and avoid any action(s) capable of compromising the integrity of the elections.”
President Buhari stressed that “conducting free and fair elections is one of my main concerns for our democracy, and I want this commitment to be one of the legacies I will leave behind when I depart office.”
The President’s comments come as the PDP National Campaign Council for Edo governorship election says the inability of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to hold their campaign grand finale, scheduled for Wednesday, is a clear signal that they have given up.
The PDP campaign asserts that the APC and Ize-Iyamu have been weighed down and completely overwhelmed by the soaring popularity of Governor Godwin Obaseki across the state and had no option other than to abandon their campaign.
In the statement by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said, “we have been made aware that the APC campaign also collapsed under the weight of a bitter division within their ranks over alleged apprehensions of Ize-Iyamu’s possible disqualification due to unresolved legal issues surrounding his nomination; a development for which very influential APC leaders in Edo state as well as APC governors abandoned the campaign”.