The people of Edo State are hopeful for a peaceful governorship poll following a new twist in the electioneering events in the state.
In what many would not have expected to see before the September 19 poll, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his major rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, embraced each other for the first time in many months.
This follows weeks of heated tension in the state as a result of the activities of the two leading political parties in Edo – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Disturbed with the series of attacks and counter-attacks during campaign rallies in the last couple of weeks, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, took a decisive step on Wednesday to end the trend of violence in the state.
The traditional ruler convened a peace meeting which had in attendance various leaders of the PDP and the APC in Edo at his palace in Benin City.
Notable among those in attendance are the PDP candidate, Obaseki; the APC flagbearer, Ize-Iyamu, former APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole; his predecessor, John Oyegun, and the state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, among other political actors in Edo.
Shortly after all the attendees were seated, Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, and others went before the traditional ruler to pay homages to him.
The Oba of Benin began his remarks by recalling the good relationship between the incumbent governor and his predecessor – Oshiomhole.
He said he had known Obaseki since he (Ewuare II) was serving as an ambassador, adding that he was present at an event where the governor made a presentation before he was elected into office.
The traditional ruler wondered what went wrong that led to the situation in which Obaseki and Oshiomhole have found themselves.
According to him, the former APC national chairman once brought a notable businessman in the country to him who stood as a guarantor for the governor before he was elected into office.
Ewuare II said, “I was very sad, shocked; what I thought was going to be a smooth ride for everybody, tranquillity in the state, tranquillity in the kingdom, turned to unprecedented conflict.
“I could not believe it that I tried to intervene several times; I even went to the President about their matter.”
The monarch lamented that he had made several efforts to reconcile the duo so that they could go back to how they used to be, stressing that he sought the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari at some point in the matter.
He decried that the lingering dispute was already having negative effects on the state and its people, saying that necessitated the call for the meeting.
The traditional ruler called on all political actors to sheath their swords and demanded words of assurance that peace would be maintained before, during, and after the election.
He cautioned against resorting to violence and asked them to emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan who conceded defeat to President Buhari in the 2015 general elections.
“To me, they (the political actors in Edo) are all one family, and what cannot be resolved when you are all family?
“Family can quarrel but there must be a resolution. Today, that is what I want us to achieve; there must be a resolution,” the monarch stated.
In their various responses, the attendees promised the monarch that they would make peace their watchword going forward.
“I want to assure you, Your Majesty, that in my role as the Chief Security Officer of the state, I am doing all I can, all within my possible best to maintain peace and safety in Edo State,” Obaseki told the Oba of Benin.
Ize-Iyamu, on his part, said, “Every campaign we do henceforth, we are going to spend some time to also talk to all of them (party supporters) about the need to keep to the peace, no matter what provocation they might talk about.”
Thereafter, the PDP and APC candidates embraced each other, in a bid to make good of the assurances given to the traditional ruler.