A former Head of State and Chairman of the National Peace Committee for 2015 General Elections, Abdulsalami Abubakar, has expressed confidence in the assurance given by the Federal Government on the sanctity of the May 29 handing over date, thereby dismissing prospect of an interim national government.
He also said he believed elections would hold on March 28 and April 11, as rescheduled, and urged the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, respectively, as well as other leaders of both parties to abide by the principles of the Abuja Accord on prevention of violence and acceptance of election results.
Mr. Abubakar spoke with journalists in Abuja, Thursday night, after a five-hour meeting of the Peace Committee which included security chiefs, religious leaders and party leaders.
Abuja Accord was sponsored by two of Africa’s most accomplished diplomats and figures of peace, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Koffi Annan and former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Emeka Anyaoku.
Mr. Abubakar said: “We have been meeting to review where we stopped at the last meeting. We are aware that the election dates have been shifted. There have been a lot of rumours circulating around the country whether there are plans to form an interim government.
“The President has affirmed that elections will hold on March 28 and there is no issue of interim government. The Attorney-General of the Federation has also said there is nothing like interim government. He has also said that there are no plans to have an interim government. We are appealing to Nigerians to focus on exercising their rights on election day.
“During the meeting here, we were fortunate to have the chairman of APC and representative of the PDP chairman. We are appealing to our youths to ensure that they are not used as thugs. It is always the children of the poor that are used during the elections. We appeal to party leaders to tell their supporters and candidates to be law-abiding. We must ensure that the peace we have had so far is sustained.”
He also condemned the violence that marred APC rally in Okrika, Rivers State last week, while warning Nigeria cannot afford violence during and after elections.
The former Head of State also said the Committee would slate a meeting with the the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, on the body’s preparedness and controversy surrounding the use of card readers for the elections.
“We are going to have a meeting with the chairman of INEC to ascertain what has been done regarding their preparedness.
“We are aware of the controversies surrounding the use of card readers and we are going to meet with the INEC on this issue. We are going to meet him to educate us on where they are on this matter,” he said.
The Peace Committee meeting was attended by APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, PDP Deputy National Legal Adviser, Bashir Maidugu, Presidential Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs, Ben Obi, Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, Tanko Yunusa and others.
After the meeting, the APC Chief, Mr. Odigie-Oyegun fielded questions from journalists.
He corroborated the submission of Mr. Jega that only the military could determine the “sanctity” of the March 28 and April 11 elections.
On Wednesday, while briefing the Senate, Mr. Jega had said he could not guarantee if elections would hold as rescheduled, explaining INEC would only assure of aspects of the election within its control.
Mr. Odigie-Oyegun stated even though he was not comfortable with Mr. Jega’s position, he understood the INEC chief “was being realistic.” He added that external forces, outside INEC’s control, like “massive attack on the use of PVCs,” and “massive court actions that are going on” stood “50-50” prospect of scuttling the elections.