- Parties to sign peace accord December 11
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Peace Committee headed by a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), thursday listed conditions for peaceful elections in 2019 and urged political parties to adhere to issue-based campaigns.
The committee and the political parties have also agreed to adopt the 2015 code of conduct model to ensure peaceful and credible conduct of the general elections.
As a means to consolidate on the peace efforts, the committee said political parties would meet on December 11 to formally sign a peace agreement for the conduct of the elections.
While presenting the resolutions of the peace committee at a meeting held with political parties yesterday in Abuja, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, His Grace Hassan Kukah, said the parties have resolved to adopt the same principles that guided the “successful” 2015 elections as a template for ensuring that all stakeholders commit themselves to peaceful election in 2019.
He said the committee and political parties discussed extensively on the need to ensure that politicians create a favourable and conducive environment for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
The cleric said: “Furthermore, we discussed the theme of trust as a key ingredient in the conduct of our affairs. “In the end, we have resolved to adopt the same principles that guided the very successful 2015 elections, and therefore commit ourselves to run issue-based campaigns at national, state and local government levels.
“In this, we pledge to refrain from campaigns that will involve religious incitement, ethnic or tribal profiling, both by ourselves and by all agents acting in our names.”
As part of the efforts to ensure peaceful 2019 elections, the committee said political parties and politicians must “refrain from making or sponsoring public statements, pronouncements, declarations or speeches that have the capacity to incite or cause violence, before, during, and after the elections”.
The committee said the parties are also expected to commit themselves to monitoring the adherence to the provisions of the peace accord and to support institutions of government and the security agencies to act and be seen to act with impartiality.
Under the initiative, the committee said the political parties and politicians are to forcefully and publicly speak out against provocative utterances, and oppose all acts of electoral violence whether perpetuated by supporters or opponents.
Addressing the chairmen and secretaries of political parties who attended the meeting, Abdusalami admonished them to help end election violence and the growing practice of hate speech.
According to him, the committee wants a repeat of the 2015 experience with regard to the conduct exhibited by political parties so that 2019 will be peaceful.
He enjoined political parties and their presidential candidates to run issue-based campaigns.
On his part, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, said the party is very concerned about action of some religious leaders who engaged in acts of hate speech and partisanship.
“It is unhelpful to turn places of worship into political campaign platforms. “Politicians should campaign to Nigerians on the basis of what they stand for and not using religious organisations for campaign purposes, that would not help us,” he said.
Speaking on the issues that may characterise the campaigns for the 2019 general election, Oshiomhole said Nigerians have become more enlightened and sophisticated in the way they look at issues, adding that for any candidate to convince the electorate to vote for him, such person must show character and integrity among other capacities.
The National Chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Abdulkadir Abdulsalami, said Nigerians are particularly worried about the behaviour of some arms of security agencies which he said tends to portray them as being partisan.
He said the National Peace Committee should also focus attention on engaging the security agencies in order to secure their commitment to good conduct during the elections.
The LP chairman took particular exception to the role of the police in the crisis at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, saying such act does not portray the force as a neutral party in the political contest.
Also, the Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and National Chairman of Progressive Peoples Alliance, Peter Ameh, commended the Abdulsalami-led peace committee for sustaining the peace efforts.
According to Ameh, the 2019 elections can only be acceptable to Nigerians if the umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ensures that it is conducted in a free, fair and transparent atmosphere.