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30
September
2022

Comply with peace accord,Don’t Fight Dirty, Buhari Tells Tinubu, Atiku, Obi, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday appealed to the 18 presidential candidates and their political parties against incitements, saying they should commit to issue-based campaigns to ensure the success of the 2023 general elections.

The president, spoke virtually on Thursday in Abuja, at the signing of the ‘First National Peace Accord by political parties and presidential candidates of the 2023 general elections’ organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC)

The signing of the peace accord was introduced by the NPC during the 2015 general elections when the country’s political space was charged.

 The event saw former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (PDP), former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, represented by his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima (APC), former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi (LP), former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (NNPP) and 14 other contestants and their political parties signing a peace accord committing themselves to the success of the 2023 elections. 

The president commended members of the NPC, led by its chairman and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), for their commitment and dedication to supporting peaceful elections in the country. 

“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 in order to achieve credible elections. 

“However, the rise of fake news and misinformation continue to pose a significant threat to the pattern of democracy in Nigeria. It has shifted focus away from issue-based campaigns to amplifying the potential for personal attacks, insults, and incitement. It has also significantly diminished the civility and decency in public discourse and debate. 

“The initiatives undertaken by the National Peace Committee to commit all political actors to issue-based campaign devoid of incitement, personal insults and attacks is a welcome development,” Buhari said. 

The president said that the 2023 general election is more than an election, as it is also an opportunity to serve Nigeria, defend Nigeria and uphold her unity and progress. 

“Therefore, I call on all Nigerians, political parties, politicians, security agencies, the election management body (Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC), and all stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria is placed first above regional and sectional claims,” he said.

‘Peace pact aided peaceful polls in 2015’ 

While speaking when he received members of the National Peace Committee (NPC), led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, on Thursday at State House, Abuja, President Buhari said the signing of the Peace Accord with former President Goodluck Jonathan and other presidential candidates in the build-up to the 2015 elections contributed largely to the peaceful outcome of the polls.

 “You may recall that President Goodluck Ebele 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 election,” he said. 

Fake news, misinformation threat to poll – Abdulsalami 

Speaking at the International Conference Centre, the Chairman of the NPC and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, said that one of the major issues of concern that have the potential to negatively impact on the integrity of the elections is the spread of fake news. 

According to him, fake news and misinformation continue to pose a significant threat to the 2023 elections. 

He recalled that in 2015, the NPC signed only one peace accord, committing the then candidates to accept the outcome of the votes as long as they are adjudged to be free, fair and credible. 

He also said that in 2019, the same peace accord was signed twice, both close to the elections, to commit the candidates to a peaceful electoral process and that this feat was repeated during the off-season elections in different states.

“It is for this reason that the National Peace Committee has organised the signing of two Peace Accords for the 2023 general elections. The first Peace Accord, which holds today (yesterday), is to commit all political parties, presidential candidates and their spokespersons to peaceful political campaigns and rallies, devoid of violence, incitement, and personal insults, but defined by issues at the very heart of national development and progress,” Abdulsalami said. 

He added that the second Peace Accord will come up shortly before the elections, and it is intended to commit candidates to accept the outcome of the votes as long as it is adjudged to be free, fair and credible.

Nigeria at critical stage – Jonathan 

On his part, former President, Goodluck Jonathan said that Nigeria is at a critical stage in her national life where there was no choice but to promote national cohesion, love and hope, in order to make the desired progress. 

Jonathan, who urged the candidates to lead the charge and strive to make the electioneering issue-based, clean and violence-free, also commended the resilience and commitment of members of the NPC to peace in the country and their efforts towards ensuring peaceful elections in Nigeria. 

“We cannot afford to continue to play politics of bitterness and division along ethnic and religious lines. This is because such kind of politics portends great danger to our unity, growth and the sustenance of our democracy,” Jonathan said. 

The former president also urged Nigerians to be mindful of the destructive impact of hate speech, fake news and mindless propaganda, especially in a clime where the fabric of unity and stability still needs to be strengthened. 

 “I charge the candidates, their promoters and supporters to exercise restraint and seek to run their campaigns based on issues that affect our people. They should, by all means, avoid needless attacks on personalities and the use of abusive language for those are the elements that cause chaos and crisis during elections. 

“Political stability and 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.

 “Unfortunately, this has not been the case, as there are signs of inconsistencies with the progress we make in our elections. As citizens of this great country, we all have the responsibility to redirect our steps, strive to work harder and do the right thing to avoid the stagnation of our democracy,” he said. 

He also said that since he left office in 2015, he has been involved in the process of promoting democracy across Africa and that his experience as an election observer, having led observation missions to many countries, is that many African countries are working hard to improve their elections and deepen the roots of democracy in their lands. 

“Many of us will recall that elections held recently in Kenya, Ghana and The Gambia and I am pleased that peaceful outcomes were recorded in those countries. In 2023, I expect our country to raise the bar for credible and transparent elections by ensuring that our electoral processes are peaceful, free and fair,” Jonathan said. 

INEC’ll monitor candidates, parties’ conduct, spending –Yakubu 

Also, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that the commission in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and in its determination to play its role as a regulator, will vigorously monitor compliance of the accord.

According to him, this is 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 the electioneering campaigns. 

“Similarly, the commission will also closely monitor compliance with the limits on campaign spending under the Electoral Act. There are sanctions provided by law. Political parties and candidates should study and familiarise themselves with the electoral legal framework to avoid any infraction of the law and the unhappy consequences that will follow any act of misdemeanour,” Yakubu said. 

“Today, the NPC is taking another giant step by inviting parties and candidates to commit to peaceful electioneering campaigns. This is important considering the connection between peaceful campaign on the one hand and peaceful and credible elections on the other,” he said. 

He also said that the 2023 General Election will be conducted for 1,491 constituencies nationwide made up of one presidential constituency, 28 governorship elections, 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies and 993 state assembly constituencies.” 

He added that every constituency like every election is important, thus the commitment to a peaceful and issue-based electioneering campaign should resonate beyond the 18 party chairmen and presidential candidates present at the event. 

“It is not enough to simply sign the Peace Accord. What is more important is to abide by its letter and spirit. You should similarly pass the message to all your candidates, members and supporters across the country for compliance. 

“This will be your own way of showing appreciation for the work of the NPC and an affirmation of your contribution to electoral peace in Nigeria,” Yakubu said. 

The members of the National Peace Committee are Gen. Abubakar, Chairman; Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto; John Cardinal Onaiyekan; Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Prof. Ameze Guobadia; Prince Sam Amuka; Justice Roseline Ukeje (rtd); Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Bishop Mathew Hasan Kukah; Lt. Gen. Mathew Luther Agwai; Mr. Femi Otedola; Alhaji Ahmed Yayale; Ms Idayat Hassan, John Momoh; Sani Suleiman Atsu and Fr. Attah Barkindo, Head of NPC Secretariat.

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