The agitation for 2019 general election thickened in Lokoja on Saturday following the destruction of the billboards and other campaign materials of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and agents of Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello.
Already, the destruction has started creating serious apprehension and tension in the senatorial zones of Kogi State.
The PDP-Presidential Campaign Council (PDP-PCCO) said the evil was perpetrated in Lokoja, North Central Nigeria.
While warning against reprisals, the PDP-PCCO, however urged its supporters in Kogi State to remain committed to the #VoteNotFight mantra and ensure that their immediate communities were sensitised on its campaign pledges and that of Atiku Abubakar.
The Kogi State Head of PDP-PCCO (Media and Publicity), Austin Okai Usman, told journalists in Lokoja that, the Kogi State government had launched a covert team for the purpose of realising its agenda.
He said, “Information at our disposal clearly indicates that the Kogi State government has commissioned and is funding a covert team solely for the purpose of destroying billboards mounted by the PDP across the state. Ordinarily, we will have ignored the intelligence report but we are constrained to take it seriously because the grand plan has kicked off already starting from Otokiti along the Army Barracks road and other parts of Koton Karfe express corridor all in Lokoja.
“Whereas the campaign council will only focus on issues and only important issues which will advance the cause of its candidate, perpetrators of the dastardly act must realize that no group has a monopoly of a capacity to embark on a campaign of calumny.
“We have maintained the narratives, we have remained focused on issues directly linked to unemployment, insecurity, inflation, poverty and the rising disquiet among the federating components which make up Nigeria. But it is only imperative for us to clearly let the APC and agents of the Kogi State government realize that their calculated attempt to stifle the campaign and mobilization efforts of the PDP by preventing our message of hope from penetrating the grassroots will be resisted by every legal means available to us as a group.
“The APC must realize that their resort to destruction of campaign billboards is an act synonymous with sheer cowardice being fallout of the inability of the ruling government in the state to provide the people with a standard of leadership and governance obtainable in states created at the same time with it. This is by no means the fault of the PDP which bequeathed a buoyant local economy, secured communities and a respected workforce to the accidental government of Yahaya Bello.
“In as much as we would wish to remain on the lane of reason, issues and constructive engagement, we will not be cowed or intimidated. If push comes to shove, we will show a clear capacity to take on the Kogi State government on a pedestal that is alien to it and its agents.
“Not only will we compile a compendium of acts of the Kogi State government capable of instigating electoral violence, we will draw the attention of the United Nations (UN), the Embassies of the United States and Germany as well as the High Commission of the UK and Canada to specific instances where Governor Yahaya Bello have in the past and is currently channelling funds to ensure an erosion of democracy in Nigeria.
“While we call on the Nigeria Police Force and relevant security agencies to rise to the occasion and restrain the Kogi State Government and its agents from threatening the peace of the state, we also call on traditional rulers, religious leaders and town unions to leverage their influence to and sell the message of peace to their subjects, followers and members.”