Traditional ruler of Umueri, Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State, Igwe Bennett Izuchukwu has warned youth in the state against disrespecting the office of royal fathers in the state, including use of foul languages on them.
The warning followed criticisms on choice of government house as venue for the monarch’s reception of Presidential candidate of People Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as against palace of Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe during the former’s visit to the state.
Speaking during a one-day Peace conference which the theme was “Vote, Not Fight: Election No Be War” organised by Catch Them Young Community Initiative (CATYCOI) the monarch stressed that the office of royal fathers was revered and should be accorded the respect it deserved.
He said, “The youths should stop disrespecting traditional rulers. They’re revered and should be respected. The argument was that Obi of Onitsha and other traditional rulers would have received Atiku at his palace.
“But in his wisdom and in attempt to carry all traditional rulers along, he decided to bring us to the government house which is our usual place of meeting and at the same time what Atiku requested for.
“The same thing will happen during the visit of the candidates of All Progressive Congress APC, Ahmed Tinubu which will take place at the same government house.
“Besides, as monarchs, who are meant to be apolitical, apart from giving the candidates our blessings, our votes won’t determine who becomes the next president of Nigeria, but those of the entire Nigerians.”
Describing peace as the pivot under which the forthcoming elections would revolve around, Izuchukwu also advised the youths to shun all attempts to be used as thugs during the elections.
“I urge you to lead the campaign for peaceful elections in the country instead of being used as the instrument of destruction,” he stressed.
The Royal Father also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to ensure that the votes of Nigerians counted during the elections, just as he challenged security agencies to be on top of security situations across the country as the exercise drew nearer.
On his part, a cleric and International Coordinator, UN International Peace and Positive Living Awareness Centre (UN PEPOLAC), Bishop Festus Ozoemena also called on the electoral umpire to remain unbiased as it provides level playing ground for all political parties.
Ozoemena, Bishop of Holy Ghost New Life International Church, Nnewi advised both political parties and their candidates to avoid engaging in vote buying, stressing that all hands must be on deck for the elections to be successful.
Commissioner of Poliçe in the state, Echeng Echeng, represented by Mr Martins Mbajiuwa said the Police and other security agencies were working hard to ensure the successful conduct of the elections in the state.
The State Commandant, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Isidore Chikere assured his officers readiness to ensure law and order prevailed before, during and after the polls, urging citizens to feel safe to exercise their franchise during the elections.
Chikere who was represented by the Public Relations Officer, Edwin Okadigbo, urged members of the public to promptly report any potential plot to cause violence in the election to the police, assuring absolute confidentiality.
Earlier, Executive Director, Catch Them Young Community Initiative, Mr Nonso Orakwe, described peace as a panacea towards conducting successful elections in the country.
He identified poverty, inequality and marginalization as some of the underlying issues that often led to electoral violence in the past and called for holistic address of the situation.
While charging INEC to ensure that the electoral process was transparent and credible, Orakwe insisted that the conduct of peaceful, free and fair electoral process was essential for the stability and growth of the nation’s democracy.
The conference was attended by youth from across the South East states, officials of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, National Orientation Agency, NOA; Civil Society Organisations, politicians, traditional rulers, clergies, among other critical stakeholders in the electoral process.