Nigeria’s former vice president and one of the founding fathers of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Alex Ekwueme, has warned politicians, political parties and their candidates participating in the forthcoming Anambra governorship election to desist from acts capable of promoting violence during the electioneering period.
Pa Ekwueme gave the warning over the weekend in a brief chat with Orient Daily in his country home, Oko, Orumba North local government area of Anambra state. He was playing host to a non-governmental organisation, Centre for Strategic Leadership and Youth Orientation (CENSTLEYO) and also urged candidates in the race for the state governorship to focus on selling their candidacy to the electorate through issue-based campaign and clear manifestoes rather than engaging in personality attacks and needless mudslinging.
“Our politicians should eschew violence, talk to the issues and not talk to persons. It is wrong for politicians to verbally attack their opponents, accusing them of all sorts of things that the person will start defending himself or herself instead of unveiling their manifestoes and how they intend to achieve that.”
The former number two citizen in the Second Republic, stressed that it was immature and baseless for politicians to accuse their colleagues unjustly for the purpose of scoring cheap popularity, saying that the state benefits nothing by instigating crisis and promoting violence.
“We should know that politics is not a do-or-die affair; do-or-die means getting results at all cost and that is not what politics is all about. What is important is to have a game played in a fair manner so that the best person who has the people’s support will win without being put into physical, mental or any other pressure, including spiritual.”
The octogenarian further suggested that an independent body should organise a well-structured debate for all the candidates to share their views and manifesto with the Anambra electorate for better assessment of their pedigree and programmes. He expressed regret that some candidates don’t actually have the interest of the state at heart but join the race for their own selfish agenda to acquire wealth and political power.
“In some countries, all the candidates should be subjected to debate where they will tell the electorate what they will do for the people. Their response will give the electorate the opportunity of electing who is more focused and with people-oriented programmes. Some of them have no agenda but only vying to amass public funds and wealth. So, we need to have issue-based campaigns where people articulate what they want to do for the state and how they want to do it,” he argued.
Ekwueme, however, commended the CENSTLEYO for their lofty programmes, especially on the health sector and quest for good governance. He pledged to give them moral support in their stakeholders’ leadership forum coming up in October.
“The programmes you are enunciating in health, good governance, are all laudable programmes which we need to support and we will give our moral support to encourage people like you” he promised.
Earlier, the leader of the team and founder of the group, Mr. Felix Imah explained that the essence of the stakeholders’ leadership forum was for “the stakeholders, irrespective of the party leaning, to come together to review the Anambra state of yesterday and today and then draw up the design of Anambra state that will be of interest of all.”
He noted that the programme, which will have the former chairman, Independent National Electoral commission (INEC), Prof Maurice Iwu, as keynote speaker, will feature community leaders, faith-based organisations, market men and women, religious leaders and the Nigeria Labour Congress, among other stakeholders.