The Oba of Benin Kingdom, Ewuare II has spoken on the qualities expected of the candidate to be voted for in the forthcomingGovernorship election in Edo State while also expressing confidence that contrary to the apprehension of the people, the September 19 election would be devoid of violence.
Speaking while playing host to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu and some of his National Commissioners who paid him a courtesy visit, the Oba of Benin said the people have nothing to fear, given fasting and constant prayers.
He also disclosed that before the election, he would invite the candidates to his palace to complement the peace initiative by the National Peace Committee expected to arrive in Benin City to commit the candidates to a peace deal.
He said: “We are concerned about the whole process, there is a lot of anxiety, but at the end of the day, we shall see light.
“Let us continue to pray, it is more powerful than the barrel of the gun because there is nothing prayer can’t solve.
“Everybody is calling on the Navy, the Police, the Airforce as if it is war front. Edo isn’t a battleground.
“Those who want to cause trouble or bloodshed, nemesis will catch up with them, the Law of Karma is there. I am worried about the way the whole process has been going on.
“I want to appeal to our people not to sacrifice their lives for anybody. Those that are using other people’s children, they keep their own children out of the street. While the victims are killed or maimed for life, they continue to amass ill-gotten wealth.”
The Oba of the Benin Kingdom who maintained that the Palace has no adopted candidate for the election, however, advised the Edo State electorate to conduct their due diligence on the candidates. He noted that anybody with a character deficit should not be considered for the exalted office.
He traced the genesis of the tense atmosphere ahead of the election to the crisis between the incumbent governor and the candidate of People’s Democratic Party, Godwin Obaseki and his estranged godfather and former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
He further expressed disappointment that his troubleshooting initiative to reconcile the duo were rebuffed.
“The Benin people know who to support that will put food on the table, respect the traditional institution. The people are already voting with their voices. But we pray for wisdom and divine guidance.
“The issue of godfatherism shouldn’t come into play. You should not bring a candidate without character. The people should do due diligence on the candidate they want to vote for. I am not bringing down any candidate, I am just advising my people to examine critically whoever they want to vote for.
“I want to appeal to them to maintain peace, let us support INEC. I maintain that the Benin throne isn’t partisan, the warring parties come to me individually, so how can I support one against the other? In Benin right now, I am not happy that my children are fighting themselves.
“We shall continue to pray for INEC and may God Almighty and our ancestors hear that prayer.”
Earlier in his remarks, Professor Yakubu said the visit to the Oba of Benin palace was part of the extensive consultations with those whom he submitted would add value to the conduct of the peaceful election.
He further noted that his visit was to enable him to take stock of preparations by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Edo state, Mr Johnson Alalibo.
He restated the concern of his Commission over incendiary remarks and violence trailing campaigns by the political parties.
“We are here to seek the blessings of the palace for the election. In addition, we are here to express our appreciation for your continued support.
“We are concerned by the threats to peace and some of the utterances attributed to the political actors.
“We know the voice of the palace is a very strong voice indeed. We want to assure you that we are ready for this election. INEC isn’t a candidate. We aren’t even interested in the outcome of the election, but the process for a peaceful election.”
The INEC chairman also highlighted processes that have been embarked upon to ensure smooth conduct of the election.
“We have so far implemented ten out of fourteen of such activities. We have been training security agencies to be familiar with our processes
“The security agencies are to secure the environment and we have been meeting them both in Abuja and here.
“Aside from security agencies and our work, we need the voice of eminent stakeholders in the country and that’s why I am here.”