• Friday, June 14, 2024
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Jonathan, Buhari, 12 others sign peace accord on 2015 elections

Jonathan, Buhari, 12 others sign peace accord on 2015 elections

As part of efforts to achieve smooth conduct of the forthcoming elections, President Goodluck Jonathan, the flag bearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  and former head of state Muhammadu Buhari , of the All Progressives Congress (APC) along with 12 other presidential candidates, have signed a peace accord.

The presidential candidates struck the deal at the  2015 General Elections Sensitization Workshop on Non – Violence  on Wednesday, in Abuja.

The workshop which was organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser to the President, also had in attendance Kofi Anan, the former Secretary – General of the United Nations , his former special adviser, Ibrahim Gambari and former military adviser to the United Nations Peacekeeping unit, Isaac Obiakor.

Several elections in the country have been scarred by violence , leading to loss of lives and properties. 

Speaking at the workshop, President Goodluck Jonathan  expressed the view that provocative and inciting statements which politicians make in the course of campaigns triggered the electoral violence the country had witnessed in the past.

Jonathan, who did not exonerate himself from the category of those that had made inflammatory statements in the past, said,  “For those of us that are politicians, we must avoid provocative  statements, we must avoid threatening ourselves. It is saddening that we make statements that are provocative and the younger ones are listening to us”.

The President pointed out the need for all aspiring candidates to be screened by security  intelligence agencies, stressing that the idea of political parties screening candidates had given room for people who are known to be violent, to infiltrate and cause damage to the country’s electoral process.

Read also: Peace Accord: My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian, declares Atiku

Jonathan also urged religious and traditional rulers to be cautious in their verbal attacks on political candidates, adding that halting of “hate preaching” by religious leaders would help achieve hitch free elections.

“Some religious and tribal leaders instigate their followers to be confrontational and sometimes label some people or some aspirants as the enemies of their faith, either Islam or Christianity. Some of them make inflammatory statements. All this will not help because as leaders at that level, you have your followers, and by saying these things, you are instigating them to be violent.

While expressing confidence on INEC’s ability  to conduct  transparent polls, the president urged the electoral body to ensure that all registered voters are given equal rights to vote, as failure to do this may be “a recipe for violence”.

“INEC must assure Nigerians that their voting systems will not be manipulated to avoid electoral violence.”

On his part, Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressive Congress  who faulted the judicial system in the handling of election cases, urged the cooperation of all, to achieve non violent elections.

Kofi Anan, a former Secretary – General of the United Nations, urged parties to take the non – violence accord seriously, adding that the ongoing barbaric insurgency going on in the north – east must be stopped.

He advised politicians to desist from making inflammatory statements and focus on issues such as justice and security.

In his address, Attahiru Jega, the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who drew inference from one of his publications titled; Tenets of Non Violence Elections: Lessons for Nigeria,  averred that for Nigeria to achieve  violence- free elections, political parties and their candidates must imbibe a high level of professionalism in their conduct. He added that giving room for internal democracy and willingness to accept outcomes of elections results by candidates would go a long way in stemming the tide of electoral violence.

Jega said it was important that all candidates sign undertakings to follow the path of peace, and promised that his commission would do everything possible to create a level playing field at the polls.