Atiku, others sign pact, Buhari demands non-violent polls
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National chairmen of 18 political parties and their presidential candidates, on Thursday, signed a peace accord, committing themselves to peaceful campaigns ahead of the 2023 elections.
The event, which was an initiative of the National Peace Committee, was held in Abuja.
The PUNCH reports that presidential candidates present at the event included Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party; his Labour Party and Social Democratic Party counterparts, Peter Obi and Adewole Adebayo; Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (retd.) of the Action Alliance; and Justice Peter Umeadi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance.
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, was, however absent at the event.
His running mate, Kashim Shettima; and the party’s national chairman, Senator Adamu Abdullahi, however, signed the agreement.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in his pre-recorded goodwill message played at the event, advised political parties and their candidates to play their part in making the 2023 general elections violent-free.
“As the President, I have always reiterated my commitment to peaceful, credible and transparent elections, and what the Peace Committee has been doing over the years aligns with my belief that Nigeria needs peace to achieve credible elections.
“The initiatives undertaken by the National Peace Committee to commit all political actors to issue-based campaigns devoid of incitement, personal insults, and attacks is a welcome development,” he said.
While receiving members of the committee led by a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), later at the Presidential Villa, Buhari attributed the peaceful conduct of the 2015 election to the peace pact he signed with former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“You may recall that President Goodluck Jonathan and I signed the first National Peace Accord before the 2015 elections. It is my conviction that it contributed significantly to the peaceful outcome of the 2015 elections,” he said.
The President urged all the signatories to the 2023 peace accord and their supporters to abide by its content.
At the event, Jonathan said there was no alternative to peaceful elections in 2023 and beyond.
“Although we are all key stakeholders, I must say it behoves the candidates and the leaders of the various parties to lead the process for peaceful elections in our country.
“Political stability and the growth of democracy in any country are usually measured by the quality of elections. In this regard, we expect our democracy to be consolidated in such a way that our electoral processes will be seen to record incremental progress at the end of every election cycle,” he stated.
Also, Abubakar, who handed over power to a democratically elected government in 1999, warned of the negative impact of fake news on the nation’s political system, stressing that “it has created the flood zone for political parties to resort to name calling, personal insults, and character assassination.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, in his address, added his voice to the calls for issue-based campaigns.
He said, “In line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and in our determination to play our role as a regulator, the commission will vigorously monitor compliance to ensure that parties shun abusive, intemperate, or slanderous language as well as insinuations or innuendoes likely to provoke a breach of the peace during electioneering.
“The Electoral Act, 2022 provides for campaigns in public by political parties to commence not earlier than 150 days before polling day.”
IG warns troublemakers
Also, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, warned would-be troublemakers to be prepared for the implication of violence, adding that as the lead security agency in the elections, the police would prosecute anyone found breaching public peace and order by the provisions of the law and the Electoral Act.