Bayelsa poll: NGO decries tense political atmosphere, sues for restraint

Search for Common Ground (SCG), an election advocacy group has decried the tense political atmosphere capable of threatening a peaceful governorship election in Bayelsa on November 16.

Ms Joy Baiye, Media Advocacy Coordinator of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) made the observation at a press conference in Yenagoa.

Baiye noted that reports from 24 pre-election observers deployed by the NGO was worrisome and called for restraint by the stakeholders.

According to her, the election promises to be one of the most closely contested in the state under the fourth republic.

“The potential for violence is also depicted by a number of recent developments and the situation keeps deteriorating; remarks from candidates in the two major political parties are alarming.

“As an organization that works in the area of peacebuilding, Search for Common Ground is greatly concerned with this bad development, seeing the provocative actions of political party supporters and hate speech coming from the two major parties.

“This constitutes a serious danger to the election and beyond; For instance the carrying of a coffin to campaign with an inscription of another party’s name on it and the numerous verbal attacks by the governorship candidates.

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“Party supporters use online platforms to post derogatory comments about their opponents.

“Women have also expressed fear to vote after witnessing a violent campaign that included open death threats between opposition party supporters.

“These remarks are highly disturbing. Elections come and go, therefore, no citizen or body no matter how highly placed should be allowed to jeopardize its conduct if our democracy is to be safeguarded and strengthened.

“In particular, no election should cost the life of anyone in the state,” Baiye said.

The NGO urged youths to understand the hope society placed in them and resist any provocation to cause chaos before, during and after the election.

The group urged traditional and religious leaders, the business community, and the academic community to help in making the election peaceful.

The NGO appealed to the Bayelsa Election Peace Committee to continue to engage political actors and relevant stakeholders across the state to ensure peace reigned in the state.

They equally called on politicians, their supporters and youth to be orderly and avoid hate speech or spreading fake news either online or offline.

(NAN)

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