2015 Election: Presidential Candidates  Sign Non-Violence Pact

President Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari and other presidential candidates of political parties on Wednesday signed a non-violent undertaking, committing themselves to peaceful campaign and conduct during and after the forthcoming general elections.

The pact which was dubbed ‘Abuja Declaration Accord’ was signed at a sensitisation workshop on non-violence organised by the offices of the National Security Adviser and the special adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs.

The event was chaired by former Commonwealth Secretary General, Emeka Anyaokwu, who also read the peace agreement aloud to the hearing of all present.

The pact affirms that the candidates and stakeholders would: run issue-based campaigns at national, state and local government levels devoid of religious incitement and ethnic or tribal profiling; refrain from making public statements, pronouncements, declarations or speeches that have the capacity to incite any form of violence before, during and after the election.

The candidates also agreed  to forcefully and publicly speak out against provocative utterances and oppose all acts of electoral violence, whether perpetrated by supporters and/or opponents; to commit themselves and their parties to the monitoring of the adherence to the accord, if necessary, by a national peace committee made up of respected statesmen and women, traditional and religious leaders; all the institutions of government including INEC and security agencies must act and be seen to act with impartiality.

Speaking at the event, President Jonathan, who is the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, stated that the post- election violence that erupted in some northern states in 2011 was not caused by electoral malpractices.

Jonathan said that the violence was incited by politicians’ provocative utterances, preaching of hate by religious leaders and pronouncement by ethnic or tribal leaders.

He gave examples of the post-election in Kano and Bauchi States in 2011 where there was violence even though he got only 16 per cent and 15 per cent of the total votes respectively, adding that there was no violence in states where he got more than 50 per cent.

“So, violence is not necessarily caused by electoral malpractices,” Jonathan said.

“We must stop these hate preaching, instigating crises, threatening others, provocative and inflammatory statements by people, whether they’re traditional or religious leaders, or ethnic nationalities leaders,” he stated.

Observing that in 1999, political aspirants were cleared by the SSS and those who could be linked to any kind of violent behaviour, or cultism, were barred from contesting, Jonathan stated that the change instituted by the National Assembly such that the parties were empowered to conduct screening of candidates paved the way for all kinds of characters contest elections.

Buhari, the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, however, differed with Jonathan on the causes of electoral violence, stating that conducting free and fair elections is the only effective way to curb post-election violence.

Lamenting the inability of the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act 2010 to guide the 2015 general elections, Buhari said that it was unfortunate that Nigerians are still waiting for the amended Electoral Act for the 2015 elections thirty days to the polls..

Buhari said he contested in 2003, 2007 and 2011, but due to electoral malpractices and other breaches, the elections all ended up in the Supreme Court.

“And these three Supreme Court judgement are available with the government printers, for those that are really serious to know what is happening in our political development.

“I could give a good example which I am sure some of you will vividly recall. In 2003, when we disagreed with the elections, we spent 30 months in courts. Out of those 30 months in court, I know I can recall, I missed only four sittings; no matter when it started, whether it is seven in the morning to eleven in the night,” he said.






     

     

    He similarly narrated his experiences in 2007 and 2011, stating that the amendment of the Electoral Act is important to the success of the upcoming elections.

    Also addressing the workshop, former United Nations, UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, said that Nigeria cannot afford any crisis because of its strategic importance to the West African region.

    “Nigeria is also a major actor on the international scene not only does it host the regional governmental body, ECOWAS, but it is also a major troops contributor to the United Nations peace keeping operations and also sits at the United Nations Security Council. But now Nigeria faces three critical tests for its future progress and prosperity,” he said.

    The signing of the pact was hailed as a welcome development by Nigerians, while charging INEC with the responsibility of conducting free and fair election.

     

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