Allow People’s Choice to Prevail, Abdulsalami’s Peace Committee Tells Presidential Candidates
*Urges them to moderate language at campaign grounds
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Peace Committee (NPC), led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), yesterday in Abuja met with the leadership of the nation’s 18 registered political parties and their presidential candidates, and demanded that they should allow the people’s choice to prevail in the 2023 elections.
Addressing the gathering before the committee and the presidential candidates entered into a closed-door meeting, Abdulsalami said the aim of the interactive session was to build confidence amongst the people in the electoral process “and to ensure that we do all that is possible for these very crucial elections to be successful.”
Abdulsalami continued: “Our intention is to hear from the Presidential candidates themselves and see how we can rally all our people to ensure that all citizens are able to elect the leaders of their choice. It is impossible to have all contestants in one room and so, we hope that whatever we discuss here affects all contestants in these elections.
“I want to appeal to all Nigerians to appreciate the seriousness and significance of these elections. We have gone through many difficulties and survived them.”
Against the background of mudslinging and personality attacks by the leading presidential candidates, Abdulsalami advised them to tone down their language and avoid recourse to violence while campaigning for people’s support.
The ex-head of State said: “We appeal to you all to be moderate in your language, show respect to the views and concerns of one another. We are not here to find out who is wrong, but what is wrong and to see how to correct it.
“We are pleased that there are measurable improvements, and that INEC is assuring us that it has resolved some of the areas that have often caused violence.
“The security agencies have also continued to give us assurances. Our hope is that you can raise your areas of concern and let us see what can be done to instill confidence in this process.”
Abdulsalami urged politicians and stakeholders to ensure that Nigerians are encouraged to elect leaders of their choice at the forthcoming general election.
He said the people should take the election of credible leaders seriously.
Abdulsalami recalled that on the 29th September 2022, the committee invited them for the signing of the Peace Accord at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.
He said, “You may also recall that we placed advertisements in all major newspapers and the social media calling on all Presidential candidates to be mindful of the concerns of Nigerians, on such issues are the need to use temperate language, avoid raising the tone of violence and to conduct themselves in a manner that does not undermine the electoral process.”
He added that the meeting was not to listen to accusations and counter accusations, neither was it to trade blame but to raise issues and concerns so that the forum can explore the best means of resolving the concerns.
Though the meeting went into a closed door, Abdulsalami promised that the media would be briefed after.
However, there was a mild drama before the commencement of the meeting, when the Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) Omoyele Sowore, protested the sitting arrangements.
It took spirited efforts by Gen. Abdulsalami to make Sowore to sit down, after he threatened to remain standing or leave the meeting if the NPC did not give assurance that there would not be a repeat.
According to Sowore, “The sitting arrangements should have been alphabetical, I note that this happened at the ICC during the signing of the peace accord and this is not fair.”