2023: National Peace Committee champions signing of Peace Accord

Gloria Thomas, Abuja

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The National Peace Committee, headed by the former Head of State, Abdusalami Abubakar, has championed the signing of a Peace Accord by political parties ahead of the 2023 general election.

Reports state that the signing ceremony was attended by eminent Nigerians like the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar the II, Nigerian Billionaire Moguls, Femi Otedola, Aliko Dangote, and Sam Amuka, John Cardinal Onayekan, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Prescilla Kuye among others.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Peace Committee, Abdulsalami Abubakar, said the essence of signing the peace accord is to commit all presidential candidates, political parties, and their spokespersons to focus on national developmental issues rather than insults and violence.

He also identified fake news and misinformation as one issue of major concern ahead of the 2023 election, saying the spread of fake news has “shifted focus away from issue-based campaigns and created the platform for political parties to result in name-calling and character assassination.”

He said the pre-election accords have “contributed significantly to mitigating the violent conflicts of these elections.”

Retired General Abubakar said the candidates and political parties would sign a second peace accord in January before Nigerians go to the polls.

For him, the Accord is an electoral culture aimed at committing political parties to issue-focused and peaceful campaigns as they canvass votes from Nigerians ahead of the February 2023 general election.

It is the first peace accord signing ceremony that had the presidential candidates and party chairmen of the 18 political parties in Nigeria appending their signatures to the document titled “2022 national peace accord on the prevention of violence and the promotion of issue-focused campaign by presidential candidates and chairpersons of political parties contesting the 2023 general.”

The document upholds that under the auspices of the national peace committee, the candidates and political parties commit to conducting campaigns focused on policy issues and promoting their party manifesto, ensuring their spokespersons and members refrain from bribery, extortion, and violence and abide by the rule of law.

The National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Yakubu Mahmood, reminded politicians and political parties of the provisions of the law on campaigns which are to start 150 days before polling day and end on the eve of when citizens are to cast their votes.

Professor Mahmood said as regulators, INEC would monitor compliance with the electioneering process to ensure that political parties do not breach provisions of the law, their candidates, or support.

“Section 95 (5) of the electoral act makes it illegal for state apparatus, meaning the power of incumbency, to be used to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate, including the denial of the use of state facilities, public media organizations or excessive charges for outdoor advertising, especially for signages and billboards and the law also prescribes penalties for any infraction“.

 “We will vigorously monitor to ensure compliance of political parties shouting abusive, intemperate or slanderous language as insinuations likely to breach the peace during the electioneering campaigns.

“Similarly, the commission will closely monitor campaigns with the limits of campaign spending as enshrined in the electoral law.

“Political parties should study the law and familiarises themselves with the electoral legal framework to avoid any infraction with the law and the consequences that will follow any act of misdemeanor.

“The 2023 general election will be conducted for 1,491 constituencies nationwide, comprising one Presidential constituency, 28 Governorship elections, 109 Senatorial Districts, 360 Federal constituencies, and 993 State Assembly constituencies.

“Every constituency is important; every election is important. Therefore, the commitment to a peaceful and issue-based electioneering campaign should resonate beyond the 18 Party Chairmen and the Presidential candidates are present today.

“It is not enough to sign simply the Peace Accord. What is more important is to abide by its spirit,” Mahmood explained.

The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, called on political parties and their followers to put national interest above personal interest in the legitimate pursuit of their political ambitions.

“Sections 117 (32) of the electoral act specifically identifies various electoral offences including forgery of electoral documents, disorderly conduct, propagating of forceful, unlawful possession of firearms and offensive weapons, bribery of electoral officials and inducement of electorates, among others.”  

He said these and other acts of electoral breaches by electoral officials make up major threats to the political process.

Still, security agents are alert and poised to help mitigate these for peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections.

“The Nigeria police will provide adequate security for political parties at campaign rallies, resolve conflict of time and venue among parties in a consultative manner, and will not to prevent any political party from holding rallies, procession or meetings.”

There were goodwill messages from former president Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, Yagbagi Yusuf Sani, and head of the delegation of the European Union in Nigeria, Ambassador Samuela Isopi, who promised to maintain their neutrality in Nigeria’s electoral process and support the National Peace Commission to entrench a culture of peaceful election in the country.

“It is our hope as a long-standing partner and supporter of Nigeria’s democratic governments that as we move towards the 2023 general elections, Nigeria will continue to take bold and decisive steps to see further consolidation of democracy, peaceful, inclusive, credible, and transparent elections, as the largest democracy in Africa.

“Nigeria’s election will also determine the future of democracy in Africa and the continent; It’s why the nation is so important.”

Also in attendance at the signing ceremony were Kashim Shettima of the APC, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, Peter Obi of the LP, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of NNPP, Dumebi Kachikwu of the ADC, Adewale Adebayo SDP, Hamza Al-Mustapha AA, and the only female contestant, Princess Chichi Ojei of APM among others who signed the peace accord.



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