Former Head of State and Chairman, National Peace Committee, Retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar has called for the support of stakeholders for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Abubakar made the call shortly after his committee met with management of INEC led by its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday in Abuja.
The former leader said political parties, journalists, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and security agencies were critical stakeholders needed by INEC to succeed in 2019 general elections.
He said the outcome of the meeting indicated that INEC was ready for the elections, but there was need for stakeholders to support it and make the elections free, fair, credible and peaceful.
“INEC briefed us on the preparations for elections, the challenges and what it is going to do in order to make sure that there is a peaceful, free and fair election.
“We are taking note. There are certain flash points where he (INEC Chairman) wants the peace committee to intervene in order to bring peace so that elections will be conducted.
“On our part, we will do the best we can in order to have a sanitised political arena.
“You members of the press have also a role and duty to educate our people and the politicians so that when they go on campaigning, they campaign on issues.
“There should be politics without bitterness, there should not be any rancour,’’ he said.
Abubakar also called on journalists to ensure that citizens were adequately educated to avoid being used as thugs during campaigns and elections.
He also called for the need for Nigerians to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
He stressed the need to sensitise the people to avoid ballot box snatching and all type of hooliganism during elections.
“Our people should realise that peace is very paramount in any society. There must be peace before elections; there must be peace before we have country.
“So, I implore you to know that people have the tendency to believe it in total what they read and what they see.
“Make sure you educate our people and help in voter education and all the necessary things to be done so that there will be peaceful elections,’’ he said.
Abubakar said the next stage for the committee was to meet chairmen and secretaries of political parties and discuss the way forward.
After the meeting with political parties, we are going to draw a Memoradum of Understanding (MOU) for peace and tranquillity.
“This we hope will be signed by all the presidential candidates and the chairmen of the registered parties.’’
The former head of state added that the committee would interact with political parties to ensure that there was no hate speech, and issue based campaign where there was no name calling among political parties.
He added that “Each Nigerian has a role to play and I hope they will play their parts.’’ (NAN)