The two major candidates in the Edo State governorship election coming up this Saturday, Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party and Pastor Osaze Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress, have once again hugged themselves and shaken hands in Benin City.
The first time that happened was inside the palace of the Oba of Benin where a few weeks ago both candidates embraced themselves and pledged their commitment to peace during the election.
Today’s occasion was under the auspices of the National Peace Committee headed by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Hassan Matthew Kukah. Candidates for the governorship election were made to sign a peace accord alongside the state chairmen of their respective parties.
Bishop Kukah explained the reason why the National Peace Committee resolved to get the candidates to formally commit to peace, an exercise which had been reserved for presidential elections only. Kukah said the tension generated by the coming governorship election in Edo State was too palpable to be ignored by the committee.
In his remarks after the peace accord was signed, Governor Obaseki said he was fully committed to ensuring that peace reigns during and after the election. He said: “I am fully committed to peace. I have no choice because apart from being the candidate of my party I am also the Governor of the state.”
He however enjoined the National Peace Committee not to end the peace building process with the event in Benin City. He told the committee: ” I enjoin this committee not to end their work with the signing of this peace accord but to extend their hand to other political actors in the state who are not here but have a strong stake in the politics of the state.”
Ize-Iyamu on his part said: “We will talk to all our supporters, conduct ourselves peacefully and ensure that the election will be very peaceful.”
The two candidates made the same commitment when they appeared before His Royal Majesty, Oba Eware II of Benin a few weeks back. As it happened today, both of them also embraced and shook hands.