National Orientation Agency(NOA) has called on politicians to always put the lives of the people of Edo State and the nation first as threats of violence and provocative utterances by them which has continued unabated may mar the Saturday, September 19th, 2020 governorship election in Edo State unless all sides in the political process exhibit high sense of patriotism and democratic ethos.
Director General of the agency, Dr. Garba Abari, issued the warning while charging officers of the agency responsible for voter education and sensitisation to ensure that citizens of the state become conversant with the Voter Code of Conduct(VCC) for election during the covid-19 pandemic issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Dr. Abari noted that stakeholders in the state have a duty to work towards a peaceful election in line with the demands of universal democratic practices. He regretted that recent utterances from especially the main political parties leave very little to be desired.
In his words: “We are calling on the political class to guard against the use of intemperate language capable of heating up the political space. In the same vein we call on political leaders to caution their followers against uncivil behaviour and thuggery and play the game in the spirit of good sportsmanship. We should all have realised by now that winning an election should not be a do or die affair and that the lives of the people we want to serve are sacrosanct and must remain so.
“For how long will Nigeria continue to witness bloodshed during elections? Sadly, this disenfranchise citizens because of the fearful atmosphere created by politicians. We expect politicians and political parties to be the defenders of democracy and not otherwise. Political campaigns should therefore be issue based,” he added.
Speaking on the code of conduct for election during covid-19 period, the Director General admonished NOA officers to step up their campaigns on awareness creation on the disease especially as it relates to wearing of facemasks by both officials and voters.
According to him, the new guidelines require early arrivals to polling stations, while voters showing signs of fever or coughing and sneezing will be requested to leave the queue and be attended to by designated officials.