The President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Jonathan Lokpobiri, has said that although the IYC has been known to use violent measures to discipline members, it is not in his style to glorify violence, therefore, he does not use such disciplinary measures.
The President of the group also said that in the 2023 Bayelsa gubernatorial elections, there will be no answer to any calls of violence made by politicians, as the people of Bayelsa are prepared for a peaceful election, making a shift from the violent elections they used to be known for.
In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Friday, Lokpobiri made a response to the statement made by the Labour Party governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Udengs Eradiri, who said that the IYC endorses corporal punishment as a way of disciplining members.
Lokpobiri, in his response to that statement, said, “This struggle was built in a regimented way. But the individual leader, the actions of the leader and the visions of the leader sometimes can define the movement. So, in different eras, we have had different leaders. Some are a lot more prone to violent means of addressing their issues while some others are a lot more non-violent. Like for me, I felt that if we are strong internally, we have a system to be able to defend ourselves against external aggression. But I cannot subscribe to the use of violence against my own people whom I am meant to protect and defend.
“So, the former president, my dear friend Udengs, said ‘We dey beat’. Yes, it’s actually not completely out of what IYC is known for. If people err, sometimes, we use drastic punitive measures to discipline people, but attempts to glorify violence is not part of my style and I don’t intend using it, even though it’s, over the years, been used to curb people’s misbehaviours.”
Lokpobiri also spoke on the threats of electoral violence towards Saturday’s election and said, “The threats are real, but the general mood of our people is prepared for rather a peaceful election, wherein they would be able to elect the governor of their choice peacefully, without intimidation, without harassment, and without manipulation.”
Reacting to the widely condemned statements by the deputy governorship candidate of the All-Progressive’s Congress (APC), Joshua Maciver, he said, “That for me was a rather very unfortunate and misguided utterance from the deputy governorship candidate of the APC. Elections violence is obsolete. Violence has no place in either electoral process or in our democratic process. So, the call for violence to kill people and all that is rather condemnable, and I do believe that that choice of words that came, they say it was lack of control of emotions that perhaps may have created that scenario, but I do believe that the heavy presence of security and also the widespread condemnation of that call for violence may have also sent a wrong signal that that is not the route Bayelsans want to go.”
He went on to say, “Whatever call for violence by any politician, not necessarily by the deputy governorship candidate of the APC, but by any other politician who are interested candidates in this election, whatever call for violence will be ignored. The reason is you cannot love a people you want to govern and call for violence, maiming and killing of these same people. It’s condemnable, and I do believe that violence has no place in this election, and a peaceful process where the credibility of the electoral system is also put into test. This is a rather one very crucial election because it’s an off-cycle election. The entire nation and the world is watching Bayelsa, just as we are watching the rest of Nigeria- Kogi and then Imo state. So, Bayelsa, as Ijaw people, there is no space for violence in this election, and that’s where we stand.”