Nigeria’s Two Main Frontrunners In The 2015 General Elections President Goodluck Johnathan and General Muhammadu Buhari Hug Each Other, Expressing Commitment To Hold Peaceful Election
In a show of Magnanimity and high-mindedness, the two main frontrunners in Nigeria’s forthcoming general elections President Goodluck Jonathan of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and General Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressives Congress (APC), have embraced and hugged each other at a ceremony organized hammer out differences between the various political parties ahead of February 14th Presidential elections. The two main contenders repeatedly shook hands and exchanged pleasantries attracting huge applause from the audience.
Earlier, all of Nigeria’s political parties contesting the February polls signed a historic accord on Wednesday January 14th, committing themselves to a peaceful general elections.
At a ceremony witnessed by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur Ibrahim Gambari, and other dignitaries, all the contesting political parties including the two main front runners: President Goodluck Jonathan of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and General Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressives Congress (APC), affirmed their commitment to peace and tranquility before, during and after the elections.
The meeting which was meant for local politicians to agree on a formula for peaceful elections in February 2015, turned-out to become something of an international forum graced by international peace brokers, representations from embassies and other diplomatic organisations, many of which have been curious about the polls.
The highpoint of the ceremony was the signing of a Five-Points Accord dubbed ‘The Abuja-Accord’. All the presidential candidates or their representatives have appended their signatures to the accord promising to keep the peace during and after the elections.
Parts of the accord reads: “We the undersigned presidential candidates of the under-listed political parties contesting in the general elections of 2015 hereby commit ourselves and our party to the following:
*To run issue-based campaigns at national, state and local government levels; in this, we pledge to refrain from campaigns that will involve religious incitement, ethnic or tribal profiling; both ourselves and agents acting in our names.
*To refrain from making, or causing to make our names or that of our party, any public statements, pronouncements, declarations or speeches that have the capacity to incite any form of violence, before, during and after the elections.
*To forcefully and publicly speak out against provocative utterances and oppose all acts of electoral violence whether perpetuated by our supporters and, or opponents.
*To commit ourselves and political parties to the monitoring of the adherence to this accord by a national peace committee made up of respected statesmen and women, traditional and religious leaders.
*All institutions of government including INEC and security agencies must act and be seen to act with impartiality and to forcefully and publicly speak out against provocative utterances and oppose all acts of electoral violence whether perpetrated by our supporters and/or opponents.”
Speaking on the occasion, the President of the Republic and PDP presidential candidate, Goodluck Jonathan called on his fellow contestants to rise above partisan politics to build a better Nigeria in peace and in unity. President Jonathan promised his commitment to a credible and peaceful conduct of the 2015 general elections. He said “I wouldn’t want to be elected into office only to be seen as stealing the mandate of the people. When we conduct elections, they should be seen to be credible…..that is good for Nigeria and it is good for our democratic credence too” President Jonathan said.
Also speaking was the APC flag bearer, General Muhammadu Buhari, who committed his party to peaceful conduct during and after the elections. He however urged INEC to learn critical lessons from previous electoral disputes which forced his party to resort to the courts for a resolution.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, in his address, called on all political parties to take the agreement seriously. Mr Annan urged the aspirants to avoid inflammatory statements as the elections would afford the country the opportunity to “prove itself before the international community”. He added: “We are interested in Nigeria because it is the big brother of our region. What happens in Nigeria affects us all, not just in West Africa but Africa as a whole. I am also pleased that both main parties are participating in this responsible initiative.
“Signing agreement between political parties will reassure Nigerians and their foreign friends, who are concerned about the tension, election-related violence. As I said, what happens in Nigeria assumes consequences, above all for the Nigerian people but also for the region and indeed for the continent,” He emphasized.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary General, at the meeting said the signing of the accord marked an important milestone in the political evolution of Nigeria.
“By this event today, Nigeria’s political parties are reaffirming their commitment to peace. That notwithstanding, we will continue to urge the political parties and contesting candidates to create the enabling environment for a peaceful election in 2015 through their conduct and behavior. Every contestant should be know the negative consequences of electoral violence to our national survival,” he said.
Following the signing, a committee of eminent Nigerians has been setup to monitor political parties’ compliance to the terms of the ‘Abuja Accord’.