…tasks politicians on issue-based campaigns …fears low voters’ turnout may undermine elections credibility
The National Peace Committee (NPC) headed by former military head of state, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, yesterday, fixed September 29 for the signing of peace accords by political parties ahead of the 2023 elections. The Committee expressed disappointment at the 34.75 per cent of voters that voted in 2019, saying if similar situation occurs in the 2023 polls, it would further undermine the credibility of the elections. While addressing journalists after a meeting at his residence in Minna, Niger State, Chairman of the Committee, Gen Abubakar, also called on political parties and their supporters to engage in issue-based campaigns rather than attacking their opponents.
He disclosed that the National Peace Committee had fixed September 29 for signing of the first peace accords at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, to commit political parties, presidential candidates and their spokespersons to peaceful political campaigns and rallies. “The second peace accord, which would be signed shortly before the elections, is to commit candidates to accepting the outcome of the votes as long as it is adjudged to be free, fair and credible.” The Committee, in a communique at the end of the meeting which lasted for about 2 hours and jointly signed by the chairman, Abubakar; Convener, Rev Matthew Hassan Kukah, and Head of Secretariat, Atta Barkindo, said low turnout is an area of great concern in the forthcoming polls.
The Communique reads in part: “Voter turnout is another area of concern. Just 34.75 per cent of eligible Nigerians voted in 2019, and a similarly low or lower turnout in 2023 would further undermine the credibility of the poll. “Nigerians – politicians, political parties, security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and all stakeholders – should ensure that the country is placed first above regional and sectional interests. “The 2023 general election is more than an election; it is an opportunity to save Nigeria, to defend Nigeria and to uphold her unity and progress.
Nigerians should avoid the spread of fake news, and uphold the principles of tolerance, respect, civility and decency in all public and private conversations and engagements about the elections and the progress of Nigeria.” The commission lamented the precarious economic situation across the country, which has made vote-selling and vote-buying easy, as witnessed during the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states. Also speaking to journalists, the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmud Yakubu, urged the media to assist in sensitising political parties, their supporters and electorates in achieving peaceful conduct of elections in 2023.
He said the Commission would engage with the National Peace Committee and relevant organisations to ensure that electorates exercise their voting right without fear or intimidation. Other dignitaries at the meeting included Sultan of Sokoto, Alh Sa’ad Abubakar III; Etsu Nupe, Alh Yahaya Abubakar; Gen Martin Luther Agwai; Alh Aliko Dangote, Mr Femi Otedola; Sam Amuka, Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers.