From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Ahead of pending polls, the National Peace Commission has signed a peace accord with political parties in Cross River state, calling for vigilance among stakeholders.
The peace accord, which was signed in Calabar at a critical stakeholders meeting organised by National Peace Committee in collaboration with Cross River Peace Committee and the United Nations held in Calabar on Tuesday, was attended by about 13 political parties, INEC and security agencies.
Speaking at the event, the chairman of the National Peace Committee and former military President, Abdulsalami Abubakar, sued for peace before, during and after the elections.
Represented by the Head of Secretariat, Rev. Fr Attah Barkindo, the former President urged the stakeholders, especially the political actors to see the according beyond mere signing of papers, adding that they dont have any executive power rather they only intervene to see how they can save the country.
He said: “Election has been so tensed that stakeholders need to wake up and provide the moral intervention.
“There is so much attention to nationanl leaving that states out, thus the state peace committee. We have been to 15 states to see how peaceful the electioneering can be.
“That is why the national peace committee decided to collaborate with stakeholders at state levels so that politicians can look at each others’ faces and tell each other the truth.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of the State Peace Committee, Rev. Fr, Charles Etim, said the signing of the Peace Accord is historic being the first in the state and urged the political actors to be guraded in their utterances.
Simirlarly, the State Commissioner of Police, Sule Balarabe, said the security agency was ready to effectively secure the state for a peaceful elections to be achieved.
He said: “We call on politicians to abide by the rules of the game. There is need to manage oir diversities in terma of belief, culture and geography.
“Election is not intended to turn us into monsters to tear apart families and societies. We should work hard to manage this our political diversity. We can surmount our differences if we believe in one another.
“Over the years, we have witnessed all forma of political violence and electoral malpractice which is against the tenets of democracy.
“So the signing of the peace accord is a call to duty and for effective participating ahead of the poll. Let the signing come from our heart else it would be an exercise in futility. We must rise up to get it right this time.”
On his part, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the State, Prof. Gabriel Yomere, said of the 17 registered political parties in Cross River, only 12 fielded candidates for elective positions, disclosing that the state’s office of the commission had received 3281 Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) that are currently being configured for the elections.
Speaking further on the BVAS, Yomere debunked the allegation that some of the machines were taken to the State Government House, describing the proponent of the allegation as an “exhibition of ignorance.”
“They were only making a mountain out of a molehill. BVAS is not used for voting but to accredit prospective voters. Moreover, we have not even started the configuration of the machines when the allegation was raised,” he stated.
While appealing to political parties to call their supporters to order, he assured that the INEC was ready for the conduct of a peaceful, transparent and credible elections in Cross River.
According to him, “its only in a peaceful atmosphere that voters will come out to vote so you must educate your supporters to eschew violence so that people will not be afraid to come out on election days.”