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Traditional Rulers and Spiritual Leaders Urge Peaceful and Credible Elections in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa States

Amidst the upcoming governorship elections on November 11 in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa, the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution have issued a plea for a peaceful electoral process. 

In a statement, jointly signed by Obi Nnaemeka Achebe, Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council; Igwe L. O. C. Agubuzu, Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council; Most Rev. Dr Chibuzo Opoko, Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia; and Most Rev. Dr. Valerian M. Okeke, Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha; the leaders emphasized the importance of credible, free, and fair polls, urging Nigerians to contribute to a transparent atmosphere. 

“The Joint Body of South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of the Igbo Archbishops and Bishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution (The Joint Body) hereby calls on all Nigerians to do their utmost to ensure that the elections take place in a free, fair and transparent atmosphere. This would enable the best candidates to emerge to lead in probably the most perilous times for the country in decades”.

The statement also called upon the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct polls creditably, addressing concerns from past general elections. 

“The aftermath of the highly contentious General Elections in February and March this year was characterised by a deluge of disputed results that in turn precipitated a plethora of court cases which have left the nation mired in a deepening distrust for public institutions. From the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the Judiciary, the last hope of the common citizen, our sociopolitical fabric has been stretched to the point of sundering.”

The prominent figures who questioned the ability of the political class to meet the demands of the times also stressed the need for unity in the face of societal challenges.

“On the economic front, the challenges have been unrelenting as the harshness of an inclement economy has savaged most of our people, yet inexplicably leaving the privileged and financially secure unaffected, and aloof and indifferent to the implications for their fellow citizens. Indeed, it is the beneficiaries of the flawed 2023 General Elections that are themselves at odds with the masses who voted them into office. Divorced and disconnected from the accountability of servant leadership, Nigeria’s political class have adorned the amour of gladiators in pursuit of power by all means.

“The reality of a politically aware and yet disenfranchised younger generation questioning the usurpation of their civic rights and responsibilities to vote and be voted for in the electoral process; the power and influence of pervasive, decentralized social media on youth who represent that largest voter demographic in the history of Nigeria’s democracy; and the emergence of alternatives to the hitherto dominant political parties that have held power at the national level, have raised the stakes and fragmented the electorate. The ensuing robust electioneering campaigns by the parties as well as the animated debates by the populace in the various news media, have crystalized the issues that challenge the emergence of a new political ethos and behaviour. We ask, ‘Can our political class and the electorate rise to the demands of the times?”

“The Joint Body has in the past stepped into the context described above in exercise of its role as the moral compass for the polity. At this critical juncture in the unfolding articulation of the complex dynamics of the Southeast geo-political zone of Nigeria, the Joint Body is suing for peace. The public may recall that when the situation in Anambra State was about to boil over and threatened the success of the Gubernatorial Election in 2019, it was the Joint Body that stepped into the breach, resulting in a Peace Agreement between the political class and other stakeholders, including non-state actors. Today, Imo State is uncertain of the desired goal of an orderly, peaceful, harmonious, and unifying Gubernatorial Election. We must all act and let peace reign.”

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