With barely four days to the Ondo State governorship election, candidates contesting in the poll on Tuesday signed a peace accord to ensure a violence-free election.
Incumbent governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Rotimi Akeredolu, his Peoples Democratic Party and the Zenith Labour Party counterparts and 14 other candidates signed the accord at an event organised by the National Peace Committee in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission.
A mild drama, however, played out at the end of the event as Akeredolu declined a request by the Master of Ceremonies for him to either shake hands, touch elbows, or embrace his ZLP opponent; the state deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi.
Our correspondent observed that the governor and his deputy earlier exchanged pleasantries with the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, by touching his elbow as requested by the MC but when it was their turn to greet each other, Akeredolu declined and simply waved at Ajayi.
Earlier, the three major contestants promised to abide by the terms of the accord by eschewing utterances and conducts that would encourage violence before, during and after the elections.
The Chairman, NPC, and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, urged all stakeholders to commit to the spirit of the accord.
Abdulsalami, who spoke via Zoom, said the intervention of the committee contributed immensely to the success of the 2015 election.
He said, “The governorship election in Ondo State is only a few days away and we want peace during and after the election. We want to see Nigeria as a place, where people come out peacefully and vote during the election without deprivation, and Ondo State deserves this.”
Other members of the peace committee, Bishop Mathew Kukah and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, appealed to the youths of the state not to allow themselves to be used as thugs.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Abubakar Adamu, who was represented by a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr Leye Oyebade, said measures had been put in place to ensure a peaceful election.