Ahead of the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, the Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF) and other stakeholders have warned against electoral violence.
In a statement signed by its Secretary, Mr. Efiye Bribena, the group expressed concern over the threat of violence and looming lawlessness in the state, saying “as we approach the governorship elections in Bayelsa, we do not want this worrisome destruction of lives and property to continue.”
The statement reads in part: “We unequivocally condemn the criminal conduct of most actors in the political process during the last general elections in Bayelsa and other states in the Niger Delta.
“We call on all stakeholders to denounce thuggery, violence and rigging in any form during the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa.”
In order to forestall any untoward development, he said the IEF in conjunction with Ijaw Professionals Associations (IPA), Ijaw Nations Forum (INF), Ijaw Women Connect (IWC) and G24 Embasara had concluded arrangements to hold a conference in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, to deliberate on the ways to achieve a violence-free election.
According to him, the initiative is to sensitise the state actors on the need for issue-based campaign putting the environmental, ecological as well as other challenges confronting the Niger Delta region in the front burner. He said: “It is our expectation that the governorship election in Bayelsa will be issue-based and the candidates will provide road maps for addressing the challenges we face as a people.
“It is expedient for all Ijaw patriots to identify and provide effective, focused and sustainable leadership to articulate and take advantage of existing opportunities, as well as create platforms for rapid growth and development for our people and communities.
He assured that the group would mobilise and collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that the will of the people is not subverted.