Shun Electoral Violence, Goodluck Jonathan Foundation Urges Stakeholders 

Former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan
  • Akinyemi advises Nigerians to welcome foreign observers 

By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja 

The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) has identified peaceful elections as panacea for growth and development that must be rigorously pursued, and urged the government and other stakeholders to avoid post-election crisis after the forthcoming polls.

This was the conclusion of a one-day conference on ‘Peaceful Elections and National Development’ held last Thursday in Abuja.

Also, a former Minister of External Affairs, Prof.  Bolaji Akinyemi, has warned against violence in the forthcoming elections and urged Nigerians to welcome foreign observers to monitor the elections.

According to the communiqué released yesterday, the participants at the Conference chaired by former Head of State of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Peace Committee, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), called on stakeholders in the general election in Nigeria to play by the rules and avoid utterances and actions that may precipitate violence.

The group also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies on the need to be professional and non-partisan in the performance of their duties.

“The government of Nigeria should ensure the security of lives and property as enshrined in the nation’s 1999 constitution before, during and after the 2019 general election.

“African leaders and politicians should refrain from labelling opponents as liars, looters and enemies, as such unsubstantiated name-calling could trigger violent reactions. Efforts should be made by national governments, civil society organisations and community leaders in Africa to prevent post-election crises;

“Regional and sub-regional organisations like the African Union and ECOWAS should encourage and promote good governance by establishing a reward system for exemplary leaders in Africa,” the communiqué reads.

While participant were unanimous in their agreement that inclusive and people-centred leadership should be the focus of national governments in order to mainstream peace-building in the course of governance, having underscored the nexus of violent conflicts and underdevelopment, African leaders were also advised to resolve conflicts through peaceful means.

The communiqué urged the foundation itself to leverage on the vision of its founder, former Nigerian president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in developing programmes to promote the conduct of peaceful elections and democratic consolidation in Africa.

The well-attended event attracted 550 participants,  which included former heads of state, members of the diplomatic community, development partners, the ECOWAS Commission, Nigeria Police Force, academia, civil society organisations, media, women and youth leaders.

The conference theme, which underscored the link between peace and national development, was applauded as timely, given that the Nigerian Presidential and National Assembly elections are scheduled to take place in a few days.

Meanwhile, a former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has warned against violence in the forthcoming elections.

Akinyemi in a statement yesterday, appealed to political leaders and their supporters to shun violence, hate speeches and be committed to ensuring credible elections.

He also advised Nigerians to welcome foreign election observers as against the suspicion that they would interfere with the outcome of the elections.

Specifically, Akinyemi warned against a repeat of what happened during the 1964 parliamentary elections.

“Since I have been monitoring elections in Nigeria, I cannot remember any elections that filled me with so much dread and trepidation as these forthcoming elections. Not even the riotous 1965 federal elections. And we all know what that led to,” he said.

“As a scholar in international relations, I cannot but bring to the attention of Nigerians the significance of the latest development in Venezuela where the international community under the United States has accorded recognition to the opposition leader as the alternative president as their reaction to what it perceives as a flawed election.

“This is promoting regime change by another route. This is the beginning not the end of the Venezuelan nightmare. Nigeria should by all means avoid a repetition of the Venezuelan nightmare in Nigeria.

“Therefore, I appeal to the political leaders to call on their supporters to eschew violence and any undemocratic behaviour during these elections. We should avoid hate speech not just know but in our political system.

“Political leaders should commit themselves publicly and loudly to free, fair and transparent elections.

“This is the time for our leaders to commit themselves and their supporters to accepting the result of the elections if the results reflect the true wishes and intentions of the voters.

“In case the elections are not free, fair and transparent, the loser should commit himself to using the tribunals and courts for redress, even though the judicial system is imperfect and under stress now.

“Above all, there should be no recourse to violence whatever the provocation.”

He also advised Nigerians to welcome foreign election observers as against the suspicion that they would interfere with the outcome of the elections.

“As someone who has led electoral observer teams to other countries for over a period of 40 years, I welcome and Nigeria should welcome the presence of the observer teams. They perform a useful role in elections all over the world,” he said.

“Finally, the United States, the European Union, the International Criminal Court, in other words, the international community have put us on notice as to their expectations. It is in our own good to listen to them.” The international community has repeatedly tasked the federal government to ensure a process that would herald free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.