By Daniel Dafe
Disturbed by the recent listing of Delta State among flash points states in Nigeria ahead of the 2019 general elections, a group in Delta State under the aegis of Vanguard For Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), is organising a 1-day ‘Summit on Peaceful and Violence-Free General Elections in Delta State’.
In a press release signed by the National President, Comrade (Engr) Igbini Odafe Emmanuel, VATLAD said that the programme is geared towards “bringing together critical stakeholders to discuss strategies to avert violence and destructions before, during and after the forthcoming Governorship and House of Assembly Elections.”
According to the press release, the said event will hold on the 5th of March, 2019 in Warri.
The press statement read in part: “This Summit is very important, given reported increase in tension and determination by some candidates and their political parties to win the critical election, come March 9, 2019.
“From experience, we know that local elections like the Governorship and House of Assembly, often attract more desperations and violence leading to deaths and destructions of property, which we intend to avert.”
Invitees to the summit include: INEC’s Delta State Resident Electoral Commissioner; Delta State Commissioner of Police; Ag. Inspector General of Police; Chief of Army Staff; Commanders of NNS Delta and 371 Nigerian Airforce, Warri; Commanding Officers of 3 and 222 Battalions of the Nigerian Army, Effurun and Agbarha-Otor; Civil Society Organisations; religious leaders and the media.
Others are the Governor of Delta State and guber candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru; Former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori; immediate past Governor of the Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan; Olorogun Emerhor Otega and Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei.
VATLAD added: “It is imperative to inform the public that our organisation recently organised a similar summit on ‘Peace and Violence-Free 2019 General Elections’ on the 7th of February, 2019 at Abuja which was attended by the Ag. Inspector General of Police; the Chef of Army Staff, a veteran broadcaster, Prof. Tonnie Iredia and other patriotic Nigerians.
“It is also important to remind Deltans that our organisation has been organising peace and good governance summits in Delta State and beyond for about 20 years and had the likes of Dr. Uduaghan in attendance during some of the programmes. Also before the 2015 governorship election in Delta State, we organised a similar summit at Benezia Hotel, Asaba, which was attended by Major General Ishola Williams (rtd) and journalists from Nigeria and International Media Organisations like the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC.”
According to the group, the summit like all others is not a political gathering and non-partisan, adding that it was strictly by invitation.