All 18 registered political parties in Nigeria signed a peace pact on the 2023 general elections in Abuja on Wednesday.
The peace pact, the second in the last five months, was organised and coordinated by the National Accord for Peace under the chairmanship of a former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The pact entails that all political parties accept the outcome of the elections or to seek legitimate means of redress in the event of divergent positions.
Mr Abubakar, a retired army General, stressed at the pact signing the need for all parties to stay committed to the second peace accord, as he observed that some of them flouted the first peace accord signed on 29 September, 2022.
“There was lack of compliance by the major political parties.
“Forty-four per cent of the violations were carried out by spokespersons of the political parties and 26 per cent by party members.
“Nineteen per cent of the violations were carried out by the presidential candidates themselves; 11 per cent by hard-core supporters and 4 per cent by party chairmen.
“Additionally, in January 2023, a lot of violence has occurred with at least 15 abductions (including that of a police officer) and at least, 30 killings (including those of 11 security personnel),’’ he said.
Mr Abubakar noted that campaign rallies were also not free of attacks.
“There were at least six attacks at political campaign rallies.
“In December 2022, INEC said it recorded 50 attacks on its offices between 2019 and 2022.
“According to data released by INEC, there were 11 attacks on its offices in Imo, seven attacks in Osun, five each in Enugu State and Akwa Ibom.
“In each of Ebonyi, Abia and Cross River, there were four attacks on INEC offices; two attacks each in Anambra and Taraba, and one attack each in Kaduna State, Borno, Bayelsa, Ondo State, Lagos State and Ogun.
“As a nation, we have got to put a stop to all of these. That is why on January 20, 2022, we convened a meeting of all presidential candidates and party chairmen.
“The meeting discussed existing and emerging issues regarding the ways campaigns were being conducted, and the need for parties to moderate their views,’’ he said.
The former head of state noted that Wednesday’s peace pact became expedient as elections were only a few days away.
“Now that the elections are only a few hours away, we are here to witness the second signing of the National Peace Accord.
“It is to commit presidential candidates and their party chairmen to accept the outcome of the elections as long as it is adjudged to be free, fair, and credible.
“It is also to commit them to seek legitimate and peaceful means of addressing any concerns that may arise thereafter.
“In this regard, I want to encourage political parties to respect that only the INEC has the Constitutional authority to announce election results.
“I also encourage the parties to ensure that their supporters refrain from disseminating fake news, misinformation, disinformation and avoid statements that will incite violence after the results of the elections have been announced,’’ Mr Abubakar said.
In his message to the pact signing, former President Goodluck Jonathan stated that the peace accord strategy had consolidated efforts of statutory structures like INEC in conducting peaceful and credible elections.
He was represented by Matthew Kukah, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto.
He reiterated the importance of the signing of the second Peace Accord which committed all presidential candidates, chairmen and members of political parties to peaceful elections.
“In the build up to the 2015 general elections, myself and my successor, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, signed a similar accord, committing ourselves to free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
“We also made it very clear in the second Peace Accord that we would abide by the outcome of the votes.
“I believe that is the way to strengthen our democracy, stave off looming violence and bring peace to our nation,’’ Mr Jonathan stated in his message.
He added that there was no better time to make the commitment than now, given the considerable level of tension and apprehension so far experienced, in the build-up to the 2023 elections.
“This is the time for the candidates and party leaders to demonstrate goodwill and impress it on their cadres and followers that election is not war.
“Our country needs a stable and reliable democracy to be able to adequately address its challenges and provide the desired leadership that meets the expectations of our teeming populace,’’ Mr Jonathan also stated.
Convener of the National Peace Committee, Mr Kukah, said the growing international interest in Nigeria’s elections is a source of great encouragement, a pointer to how much hope has been reposed in the country.
“We have five former African Heads of State here and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland,
“We thank Your Excellences and all members of the international observer missions.
“Our political actors need this pressure to compel them to raise the moral tempo of politics and to improve the quality of the lives of our people,’’ Mr Kukah said.
Present at the signing of the second Peace Accord was President Muhammadu Buhari, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba.
International election observers present included Baroness Scotland, and former President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya leading the African Union Observation Mission.
Others were former President Thambo Mbeki of South Africa leading the Commonwealth Observer group, and former President Joyce Banda of Malawi among others.
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