The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, on Friday tasked chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos to ensure violence-free elections in the state.
Entwistle, who held a meeting with relevant stakeholders at the campaign office of the party’s governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje, said politicians have a greater role to play in ensuring a violence-free poll.
Addressing the meeting, the envoy said that political parties should admonish their supporters to eschew violence before, during and after the polls.
Entwistle advised them to also ensure that their agents were in all the polling units to forestall rigging, which could lead to violence.
He also advised them on issue-based campaigns that would provide a sustainable system for all sectors in Nigeria.
Entwistle told the meeting that the Embassy had been encouraging Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to come up with a creative solution to the agitations over the conduct of the February polls.
“There is also need for voting areas to have privacy during the elections,” he said.
In his speech, Agbaje alleged that there was deliberate attempt by the opposition to hire people to tear down posters of PDP candidates, which might make others want to retaliate.
“We urge you to appeal to the opposition to tolerate the posters till the elections are over,” he said.
The PDP candidate also complained that the party was not comfortable with the issues on distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and registration of new voters.
In his response, the state party chairman, Tunji Shelle, warned that some INEC staff might be compromised because some of the INEC offices are located within local government secretariats currently controlled by the opposition.
Former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, suggested that if INEC was working towards a free and fair elections, there was need to move the collation centres to neutral places, alleging that the opposition were usually intimidated out of collation centres in the state.
He also alleged that some Advertising Agencies have refused to take outdoor advertisements from them for fear of being targeted for sanction as they claimed.
“All these are a threat to peace. We must allow fairness and let the best man win,” he said.
Also at the meeting were the US Consul General, Jeff Hawkins, Political Officer, USA Consulate, Erica Chinsao and the US Political Chief in Nigeria, Mr. Tom Hines.
Source: Daily Independent