One of the governorship aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party for the Bayelsa State governorship election, Timi Alaibe, has spoken against the killing of the party’s supporters during a campaign.
Alaibe said this in a statement he personally signed on Thursday.
The statement reads:
My attention has been drawn to a very sad and embarrassing development in Bayelsa State in the build-up to the governorship election scheduled for Saturday November 16, 2019. Reports indicate that on Wednesday November 13, 2019, there was a bloodbath resulting from heavy shootings at King Koko Square in Nembe-Ogbolomabiri in Nembe Local Government Area where the Peoples Democratic Party was scheduled to have its campaign.
Although there are conflicting reports as to how many people lost their lives from either the gunshots fired by yet-to-be-identified persons or from the stampede resulting from the gunshots; there are clear indications that no fewer than five persons were shot dead; including a driver from one of the media houses in the state who died on the spot. Dozens of other people were said to have sustained different levels of injury. Besides party loyalists who gathered at the venue of the campaign, mostly affected were media practitioners who were performing their professional duties.
Unofficial reports indicate that several houses have been burnt down while several people who ran into the creeks to escape being murdered are yet to be accounted for. This is sad. It would be recalled that a few days earlier, two law enforcement officers from the Nigeria Police Force were reportedly killed by gunmen at a certain checkpoint while on official duty at Otuogidi in Ogbia Local Government Area of the State.
This level of unprovoked violence is unacceptable. At many occasions and as someone who has been in a position to fight against violence, I have asked these questions particularly as they concern my state: Why should a true Ijaw man murder a fellow Ijaw man just because he wants to win an election? Why should anyone procure arms and train people to kill their fellow human beings so as to pave way for their rise to power? Why would anyone desire to swim in the blood of fellow Bayelsa men and women so as to attain exalted political offices? This is not just an abomination but an aberration.
From our recent history, we have witnessed detonation of explosives at political campaign grounds. Campaign offices and homes of political leaders and perceived political opponents have been burnt. You are aware that I was, more than once, a victim of such senseless attacks. The bloodshed and killings during elections are examples of disgraceful act of violence. They should never happen at all.
Elections to public offices are supposed to be based on acceptability by the electorate. That acceptability is a product of popularity of ideas. Election must not be contested and won based on superiority of violence but on superiority of ideas. Ideas speak to the heart of the people. Ideas generate transformation. Violence brings about torture and death. The result of violence is bloodshed and tears.
Elections must be contested and won based on the freewill of the voters. Voters must not be intimidated by threat of violence. We must resolve to depart from this path. Every democratic society is tailored after the ideological concept of freedom, welfare, equality, solidarity and progress.
My position has always been that politics or election is not worth dying and killing for. It is not war. Seeking election to public office does not mean we should kill anyone who stands in our way. Seeking election to public office means convincing opposing elements with superior arguments. We must not kill the electorate to win election. We can only persuade the electorate to have their votes.
Our people must not be killed because they want to elect leaders of their choice by exercising their constitutional rights. We as politicians must learn from the errors of the past. Enough is enough. I am on the side of free and fair election on November 16. I am on the side of election without violence. This is my position.
It is therefore the duty of the security agents to rise to the challenge posed by the above scenarios. Our people cannot die so cheaply without those responsible being brought to justice. Enough is enough. Thank you.