The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged traditional rulers in Oyo State to prevail on their subjects to allow peace and tranquillity to reign before, during and after the forthcoming general elections.
Mr Mutiu Agboke, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Oyo State, made the plea on Monday at an interactive session with some traditional rulers and community leaders in the state.
Agboke said that the stature of monarchs as the custodians of customs and traditions made it imperative that their pronouncement and body language bear significant political consequence.
”Political office seekers and holders still solicit the attention of the monarchs from time to time; politicians seek their support, blessings and wise counsel for their political quests.
“Thus, INEC understands that the monarchs are well positioned to influence politicians and their followers who are residents within the domain of the respective traditional rulers to conduct themselves with civility and decorum during and after elections,’’ he said.
He further implored the traditional rulers to assist the commission in reaching out to owners of unclaimed Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) still in the custody of the commission to come pick them up.
Agboke said 996,432 PVCs were still uncollected and implored the monarchs to encourage their subjects to collect the cards.
In his address, Mr Adedeji Soyebi, National Electoral Commissioner for Oyo, Osun and Ekiti, implored the traditional rulers to admonish their subjects against selling their votes.
Soyebi said that trading votes would amount to mortgaging the future of the voters involved and that of their children.
He noted that Oyo State had been peaceful in previous elections and urged the monarchs to sustain the peaceful atmosphere in the state.
In her goodwill message, Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu, the state Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), enjoined the monarchs to re-double their efforts in campaigning against money politics.
She said traditional rulers must maximise social cohesion and put in place enabling ground for citizens participation in the electoral process without any fear, molestation and intimidation from any quarters.
Speaking on behalf of other traditional rulers, the Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adegbola, promised to intensify efforts in sensitising their subjects on the need to maintain peace before, during and after the elections.
Adegbola, however, called on INEC to maintained its position as an unbiased umpire and allow peoples vote to count during the elections.
He also urged the security agencies to carry out their duties in accordance with electoral laws.
The occasion featured the decoration of a popular Fuji musician, Saheed Osupa, as the Youth Ambassador of INEC in Oyo State.
Okunola, in his acceptance speech, promised to use his music to sensitise Nigerian youths on the need to shun violence and other acts capable of disrupting the elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, representative of Oba Lamidi Olayiwola, the Alaafin of Oyo and Bashorun Yusuf Akinade among others participated in the interactive session.