By SAM JONES
YENAGOA (Sundiata Post) – Political parties contesting Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State on Wednesday signed a peace accord in Yenagoa organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) on the heels of counter allegations of stockpiling arms by the leading candidates.
The alleged plans to perpetrate violence during the poll started immediately after Governor Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress (APC) shook hands and embraced each other at the Lady Daima Hall in Ekeki, Yenagoa on Wednesday.
Sylva was leaving the hall ahead of Diri when he walked towards the governor who was seated, extended his hand and the governor rose to take the extended hand and both embraced.
The action of the pair was in contrast to what political observers thought and many onlookers who had been apprehensive of another violent election in the state heaved sighs of relief.
Diri told newsmen, after Sylva’s interview, that the signing of the peace accord would be ineffectual as the APC candidate was lying about violence and stockpiling of arms in the governor’s home local government area of Kolokuma/Opokuma.
He said: “Sylva has accused me, Douye Diri of stockpiling arms, in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA. That should be the fastest lie of the year, and that shows that this peace accord is going to be ineffectual because if a man choses to be telling lies even in the face of this peace accord, then something is wrong.
“I was really embarrassed when I got that information and everybody in this state knows those who are given to violence and the flash points.
“Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA has never been a flash point. I think the candidate of APC, Chief Timipre Sylva may have stockpiled arms in Kolokuma/Opokuma and I call on security agencies to immediately go into action to see if Timipre Sylva is bringing the devilish action he has been taking in Nembe where he has disallowed the people of the area to participate in the democratic electoral peaceful processes, and we in Kolokuma/Opokuma will never accept that from him.
“I am one person that all of you will attest that the peace in this state is because the body language of the governor is peaceful, the body language of the governor is security, and so the issue and question of my commitment does not arise here. I’m fully committed to peace.”
Earlier, Sylva, the APC candidate and former governor of the state, told newsmen that there has been a lot of violence orchestrated by the PDP in Kolokuma/Opokuma. He expressed hope that the peace accord would make the key actors in the election stand back and work for peace.
His words: “APC today has come to demonstrate that we are committed to peace in Bayelsa State, but we are not comfortable with the disposition of our opponents. There has been a lot of violence orchestrated by PDP in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, but I’m hoping that the peace accord will make all of us to stand back, and ensure there is peace in this election.
“This is a very significant ceremony, and for us in APC, we are very happy that this is happening because we always stood for peace and we hope that other parties will obey and abide by the peace accord. Having signed it, we believe it will at least change everybody not to do what they are planning to do because we hear all the plans, we hear thugs imported from other states.”
Speaking during the signing of the peace accord ceremony, NPC Chairman, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), who was represented by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese of the Catholic Church, who is secretary of the committee, urged Bayelsans to vote for peace and togetherness on Saturday.
He advised the contestants not to see the signing of the peace accord as mere formality saying, “Many Nigerians are asking if this signing of peace accord is worthwhile at all, or is it just a formality, and the people who are being accused are the people involved in the process, mainly the politicians themselves.
“The good thing about democracy is that we know the contestants, we know their families, we know their communities because they grew up among themselves, so election should be like a family event. Bayelsa is not a very big state, Bayelsa is a community eating almost the same food, the same language, the same dance.”
Some political parties prominent among them the Labour Party (LP) were conspicuously absent at the ceremony.