Nigeria 2019: Atiku, Secondus absent as Buhari, others Sign Peace Accord
Abuja, Dec. 11, 2018 (AltAfrica)-Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Uche Secondus, the chairman of his party were conspicuously absent at a ceremony to sign a Peace Accord, ahead of the 2019 elections.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari attended the event and signed the accord at 4.27pm, along with Adams Oshiomhole, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress.
The event held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Some reports quoted Atiku’s media spokesperson as claiming that the PDP candidate was not aware of the event.
He was not only one present, according to Daily Trust. Other key presidential candidates that were absent include Mr. Donald Duke – Social Democratic Party, (SDP), Mr. Omoyele Sowore – African Action Congress (AAC) and Mrs Obi Ezekwesili – Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).
The Peace Accord, which was also signed by all presidential candidates before the 2015 election, is the brainchild of former head of state, Abdusalami Abubakar.
The accord is an undertaking by all the presidential candidates to ensure peaceful and rancour free campaigns before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
The candidates are also expected to avoid hate speech, fake news or any act capable of causing socio-political unrest in the country.
Former Head of State and Chairman of the National Peace Committee, Retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, said that the objective of the accord was to ensure peace before, during and after the elections.
Abubakar said that political parties must seek for peace throughout the electioneering period, as elections would not hold without peace.
“It is also important that governance after the elections will be impossible without a peaceful environment.’’
He also enjoined political parties to adopt Code of conduct that promote peaceful conduct and inclusiveness during electioneering period- before, during and after the elections.
Abubakar urged all political parties to keep to the provision of the peace document as they match toward the elections.
He said that by agreeing to sign the accord, all the political parties and their candidates had agreed to maintain peace, beyond self-interest and accept the outcome of the election for the good of the country and its citizens
Abubakar said that the security situation in the country should be source of concern for everybody and more especially political parties, saying you must not do anything to make the bad situation worse.
“As political leaders, all candidates for political office, must show example for in their conduct and actions .You must lead by example by your attitude and conduct. Also by your speech and what you sponsored.’’
He said that political parties and their candidate must create conducive atmosphere for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2019 and beyond. “The time to do what is right is right now.’’
Abubakar said that the mere signing the peace document would not achieve its objectives until and unless all actors accept to work by its provisions.
He called on all religious and traditional leaders to play their role in ensuring peaceful conduct of the elections.
He commended the President Buhari and political parties on their commitment to conduct of free and fair elections in the country.
Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, presenting a keynote address at the occasion said that the nation was yet at another critical junction as it prepared for 2019 general election.
Gowon said that there was need to consolidate on the peace enjoined in 2015 in the 2019 general elections.
Gowon said that it was gratifying that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had pledged credible elections in 2019.
“Citizen of our nation cannot ask for less, but we should all be party to the success by ensuring that politicians vying for public offices and their supporters are united in the sincere pursuit of issue based electioneering.’’
He said that regardless of Nigerians affiliations, buying of vote would defeat the essence of democracy, while elections rigging would denied the desire and aspiration of Nigerians for good governance.
Gowon urged party leaders and their candidates to hounour the accord that they had signed, while also calling on INEC and security agencies, election observers to maintain their neutrally in the coming elections.
Gowon commended President Buhari for signing the Not –Too-Young-To -Run Bill and the members of the National Peace Committee for organizing the signing of the peace accord.
Former Chief of Justice of the Nigeria(CJN) Justice Mohammed Uwais said free, fair election were critical elements of democracy.
Uwais expressed hope that parties that signed the peace accord would have peaceful campaign and successful elections.
The European Union, Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen said that Nigeria , in 2015 set an example for Africa and for the world alike, seening the outcome of democratic elections prevailed.
“As the country prepare for 2019 election, we hope that Nigeria will see further consolidation on democracy through free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful elections.’’
Karlsen said that the presidential candidates and political parties had role to play by saying no to hate speech, vote buying, intimidation of voters and say yes to peace and transparent elections.
He advised INEC to guide its independence, while political parties should guide their neutrality and guarantee safety without intimidating voters.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, speaking on behalf of the traditional leaders, said what was to know that Nigeria was greater than anyone.
“We should know that the peace of our nation I very critical and gamine to the growth and development of the nation. No individual or political parties can say they are greater than the nation.
“As a result everybody should focus on hoe to keep peace and how our great country will continue to make history in the comity of nations.’’
Ogunwusi who said that the peace accord was very critical to the next level of the nation, added that the day the politicians are aware that the nation was greater than them, the day the country would start making progress.(NAN)