Nigeria’s presidential candidates on Wednesday renewed their pledge for a peaceful election as the country prepares to hold general elections starting with presidential polls on Feb. 16.
The signing of the second “peace accord” since December 11 ahead of the presidential polls, took place in the capital Abuja. Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari who is running for a second term of office on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) and the candidate of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, were among presidential candidates present at the peace parley in Abuja. By signing the document, the candidates and their political parties are expected to avoid hate speeches, fake news or any act capable of causing socio-political unrest in the country.
Some of the previous elections in the country were hit by post-election violence in which scores were reportedly killed. The presidential candidates also agreed to accept the election results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s electoral body. Speaking at the signing ceremony, 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… Now campaigns are over and our next assignment is for us all, citizens and contestants alike, to go out and exercise our civic duties,” the president said, calling on the youths in particular to shun acts capable of causing social unrest during or after the elections. Buhari further urged all the presidential candidates to accept the final outcome of the elections.
The main opposition candidate Atiku described the signing of the peace pact as an event demonstrating the importance of the upcoming elections. He called on INEC and security agencies saddled with the responsibility of ensuring peaceful conduct of the elections to be fair arbiters in the exercise. “Once again, despite concerns expressed by my party leaders concerning likely electoral malpractices and the intimidation of voters and observers, I trust that our electoral officials and security services will do their duty in accordance with their oath and obligations,” Atiku said.
Also present at the event, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, charged all stakeholders to join hands in promoting peace before, during and after the Nigeria general elections. A United Nations representative at the event also called on politicians to shun violence during the polls.
Mohammed Ibn Chambas, representing the UN secretary-general António Guterres, said the forthcoming elections will provide Nigeria the opportunity to reaffirm its regional and global position in the world. Ketil Karlsen, head of the delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, said candidates must respect the outcome of the election to guarantee peaceful co-existence among diverse socio-political groups in the country. On its own part, INEC said all logistic requirements for the election have been met, and that all its personnel was set to ensure free and fair elections in line with international best practices.