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Ex-envoy, others urge Nigerians to maintain peace

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Police officers wait to escort staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with electoral items to a polling station from a Registration Area Centre after the scheduled opening time of the voting for the Presidential and General election in Port Harcourt, southern Nigeria, on February 23, 2019 (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

Nigerians have been urged to maintain the peace as they prepare to round off the 2019 general elections on March 9.

Former Nigerian ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Ayo Otepola, said this on Saturday as the guest speaker during a World Peace and Understanding Day event at Rotary Centre, Ikeja GRA, Lagos.

The event themed ‘The Impact of Cross Border Violence on World Peace’ was organised by Rotary International District 9110, Nigeria, in conjunction with Rotary Club of Lagos.

He charged political actors to play by the rules of the game by imbibing democratic values and obeying the rule of law as they jostle for positions.

The presidential and national assembly elections took place all over the country on Saturday, coinciding with the World Peace Day, while the governorship and state assembly polls comes up on March 9.

According to Otepola, it is high time the nation, especially the politicians, began to build strong institutions that will strengthen and deepen peaceful relations that are essential for sustenance of world peace.

“The purpose of man on earth is connected with the pursuit of happiness, and true happiness can only be achieved in a peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, happiness, harmony, public order and security are all fruits that grow on the tree of peace,” he said.

He, however, lamented the brand of politics played in Nigeria, as politicians, surprisingly, were yet to learn the consequences of do-or-die politics.

“Governance should be citizen-centred to deliver dividends of democracy, which include jobs, economic growth, good healthcare system, qualitative education and social safety nets for the weak and vulnerable, as well as reduce excessive acquisitive tendencies that pits the rich against the poor and breeds class struggle. These will enable various groups to live in peace and harmony,” he said.

Otepola called on those in government to emulate President Xi Jinping of China who has not relented in putting smiles on the faces of the minorities in China.

He added: “Norway has the happiest people in the world because it is a peaceful country where governance and the political as well as the economic system provide for all. The rich and the poor ride bikes together, watch movies together among others because the government has simplified life for all.”

Kola Sodipo, the governor, Rotary International, District 9110, Lagos and Ogun states, described the programme as apt and relevant to addressing the importance of peace, adding that it served the dual purpose of marking the birth of Rotary in 1905.

President, Rotary Club of Lagos, Ehi Braimah, underscored the importance of the programme at this time of elections.

One of the three discussants, Maj. Gen. Abiodun Role (rtd.), reiterated the call on politicians and Nigerians to maintain the peace.


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