Ahead of Saturday’s presidential poll, four major contenders: Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and 14 other presidential candidates ,on Wednesday, signed a peace agreement in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of the National Peace Committee and former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), also disclosed that the major presidential candidates and parties have violated the Peace Agreement they signed with the committee.
Abubakar stated this on Wednesday at the signing of another Peace Accord by presidential candidates in Abuja.
The former military head of state expressed concern about the lack of compliance by major political parties to the National Peace Accord signed in September 2022.
But Abubakar did not elaborate on the specifc candidates and parties that violated the agreement.
He said, ”44 per cent of the violations were carried out by the spokespersons of the political parties; 26 per cent by party members; 19 per cent by the presidential candidates themselves; 11 per cent by the hardcore supporters and 4 per cent by the chairmen of the parties.”
The peace accord, led by the peace committee, is supported by the Nigerian government and its international partners including the European Union and the United Nations.
It contains clauses that commit candidates and political parties to engage their supporters and ensure a violence-free electioneering process that is also devoid of other vices such as hate speech.
Unlike elections prior to 2015 when the the National Peace Committee came into existence, presidential candidates for the 2023 polls were made to sign the Peace Accord twice.
The first one was signed in September last year, prior to the commencement of campaigns while the accord was signed to oblige the candidates to a peaceful campaign.
The signing of the peace accord is the second at last to be signed by the candidates and is to enlist their commitment to a peaceful conduct during Saturday’s presidential election.
In his speech at the event, President Muhammadu Buhari admonished all candidates to accept the result of the elections or channel their grievances through the appropriate judicial processes.
Buhari also reiterated his commitment to allowing the rule of law to take its course and called on those saddled with the responsibility of conducting the election to allow the electorate to chose who governs them.
He also appealed to the candidates to accept the outcome of the election, and seek legal redress if dissatisfied
He said, ”Any aggrieved candidate should resort to the established judicial processes, and we must have the confidence to trust our legal systems.
Some of the peace committee members present included General Abubakar, Bishop Matthew Kukah, and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III.
Other stakeholders at the event were the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba, and former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, who leads the Commonwealth Election Observer Group to Nigeria.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) restated its commitment to conducting the elections as scheduled.
The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, also assured Nigerians of a transparent exercise.
In his remarks, the IGP decried the lack of compliance with the spirit of the September peace accord, which committed the candidates to issue based Campaign.
The IGP also appealed to political parties to rein in their supporters to ensure that the election is peaceful.
He also called on the candidates to emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan who accepted the outcome of the 2015 elections and helped keep the country’s peace.
In her remarks, the European Union (EU) ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, urged Nigeria to lead by example and send a strong message to the world about consolidating democracy.
She called on all candidates to accept the results of the elections and seek legal redress when dissatisfied.
The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, underscored the importance of the 2023 general elections, stressing the significant position Nigeria occupies on the continent.