Elections: Buhari’s Work, Integrity will Speak for Him—Kachikwu
The Presidential candidates in the Feb. 16 general elections including President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday renewed their pledge for peaceful elections.
The event was organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) under the chairmanship of the former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that similar accord was signed by the presidential candidates on Dec. 11, 2018 with the exception of Atiku Abubakar, who later signed the agreement on Dec. 12, 2018.
Speaking shortly after signing the Peace Accord, Buhari expressed satisfaction over the way the ongoing political campaigns were being conducted by candidates across the country.
“We have assembled here to mark the final phase of our campaigns and we are now at the doorstep of our elections.
“The Campaigns so far have gone well and we thank God for that. For the few incidents in which people lost their lives largely through accidents, we pray that God grants them eternal peace.
“Now campaigns are over and our next assignment is for us all, citizens and contestants alike, to go out and exercise our civic duties,’’ he added.
While calling on all Nigerians to contribute more in ensuring good governance in the country, the President reiterated his appeal to the youths to shun acts capable of causing social unrest during or after the elections.
He revealed that all the financial and logistics requirements of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had been met by the Federal Government so as to ensure free and fair elections in line with international best practices.
“We, the Presidential candidates are here to sign and commit ourselves to do all that is possible to ensure the success of the elections but most importantly to accept the final outcome.
“I appeal to my fellow contestants to commit to these ideals so as to keep our country and people safe.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, our electoral Umpire, has already assured us that they have done everything possible to ensure free and fair elections.
“It was to ensure this that I made sure that INEC received all the resources they needed to perform their job.
“Our Security Agencies have been fully briefed and they know that their visible neutrality is key to the conduct, credibility and success of the elections,’’ he said.
He also commended the international community for showing interest in nation’s quest for peace and stability, saying that their presence would help to validate the process and commitment to growing Democracy in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, called on INEC and security officials saddled with the responsibility of ensuring peaceful conduct of the elections to be fair arbiters in the exercise.
He also urged the security agencies, “not to embark on indiscriminate arrests of members of the opposition, 24 to 48 hours before elections, as has been the case in previous elections.’’
Abubakar stated that the event had demonstrated the importance of the upcoming elections as well as how the nation democracy had matured, “not only to our people, but also to the international community whose solidarity, Nigeria’s democracy has benefited from.
“As we prepare to sign off on this Peace Accord, as representatives of our party and people, may I freely quote the words of former President Goodluck Jonathan, which remains a benchmark, for me, taking into account the deep feelings that prevail as Feb. 16, 2019, approaches – `My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.’
“In this context, I appeal once again to every staff and the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police Force, to be fair arbiters in the upcoming elections while letting neutrality prevail.’’
The PDP presidential candidate also appealed to Buhari to use his good office to ensure that “every eligible person who casts their votes is confident in the process and in the belief that their votes will count’’.
He maintained that all candidates must remember that 2019 election was about the future of Nigeria, therefore, they must abide by the will of the people as freely expressed through elections, under the terms of the constitution.
“Once again, despite concerns expressed by my party leaders concerning likely electoral malpractices and the intimidation of voters and observers, I trust that our election officials and security services will do their duty in accordance with their oath and obligations,’’ he said.
He, therefore, appealed to citizens to go out and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice, and urged them to be peaceful at all times, and confident in the nation’s democracy, its institutions and processes.
In her goodwill message at the event, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, charged all stakeholders in the Nigeria Project to join hands in promoting peace before, during and after the general elections.
Scotland, who quoted Nigeria’s second stanza of the National Pledge, urged the presidential candidates to live up to expectations of the peace accord.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, who also spoke at the occasion, expressed the hope that a peaceful environment would be created for electorate to enable them perform their civic duty.
Guterres, who was represented by the United Nations Secretary-General Special Representative in West Africa and the Sahel, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, noted that there was no space for incitement of violence in the country.
According to him, the forthcoming elections will provide Nigeria the opportunity to reaffirm its regional and global position in the world.
While calling on INEC and security officials to maintain neutrality in the exercise, he said: “We are not here to support any political party or candidate but we are here to support peace in Nigeria.’’
In his remarks, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, said candidates must respect the outcome of the election to guarantee peaceful co-existence among diverse socio-political groups in the country.
Abubakar, who is the Chairman of the NPC, lauded the presidential candidates for ensuring relative peace during their various campaigns, and urged them to continue to maintain peace during and after the elections.
The Chairman of Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Majesty Alfred Diette-Spiff, who spoke on behalf of traditional rulers at the event, alerted the political actors that the world was watching Nigeria, and urged them to ensure peaceful conduct of the elections.
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