Peace Accord c’ttee worried over spate of violence
By John Oba
Chairman of the National Peace Committee on the 2015 General Elections, former Head of State General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd), has assured Nigerians that, contrary to fears in some quarters, there would be no Interim National Government. He said instead of that, the general elections will hold as scheduled and that the May 29 handover date remains sacrosanct.
The Peace Committee is made up of security chiefs, party and religious leaders.
Abdulsalami, who spoke to reporters after the committee’s meeting in Abuja yesterday, stated that with the assurance given by President Goodluck Jonathan, the elections will hold.
He also expressed worry over the rate of violence that recently trailed political campaigns across the country despite the peace accord signed in Abuja by the parties’ presidential candidates.
Abdulsalami, who condem-ned those perpetrating the violence, said it formed a major part of their discussion during the meetings and that the party leaders had been charged to speak out and denounce those carrying out violence in their name or sympathetic to their cause.
Condemning Tuesday’s bomb blast at an APC rally in River state, he said: “We are still worried about the level of violence that still characterises campaigns across the country despite the peace accord signed by the presidential candidates of the parties.
“We want to appeal to Nigerians to help the party leaders achieve peace.
“Nigerians should under-stand that the party leaders cannot be with every of their supporters at the same time.”
The former head of state equally called on party leaders to call their followers to order, warning that the country cannot afford to entertain violence after the elections.
“We have been meeting to review were we stopped at the last meeting,” he said. “We are aware that the election dates have been shifted.
“There have been a lot of rumours going round around the country whether there are plans to form an interim government.
“We have heard from the president that elections will hold in March. He has also said that there are no plans to have an interim government.
“We are appealing to Nigerians to focus their minds on exercising their rights on Election Day.
“During the meeting here, we were fortunate to have the chairman of APC and representative of the PDP chairman. We are appealing to our youths to ensure that they are not used as thugs during the elections. It is always the children of the poor that are used during the elections.
“We appeal to party leaders to tell their supporters and candidates to be law-abiding. We must ensure that the peace we have had so far is sustained.”
He added: “We are going to have a meeting with the chairman of INEC to ascertain what has been done regarding their preparedness. We also discussed that during our meeting. We will ask INEC where they are currently.
“The committee, like every Nigerian, is not happy with the violence and what happened in Rivers state. We are following the issue. Even if I give you a guarantee that there will be peace, I cannot dictate what you will do when you leave here.
Nigerians must ensure we maintain peace.”
Also speaking, the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyeigun, said if political war of words currently going on is de-escalated Nigerian will begin to have faith in the whole electoral process.
“There must be change, there has to be change, if we de-escalate the unnecessary political war that is going on now. The massive attack on INEC; the massive attack on the use of PVCs; the massive court actions that are going on now to have our candidate disqualified and even have the PVCs declared illegal by the court of law. In law, you can get any kind of judgement, anything before the court is 50-50.
“If all these can de-escalate, people will start believing that these elections will be relatively free and fair. In that condition, Okirika issue will be bad dream that will be behind us.
“The INEC chairman was being realistic (on election date); I am not comfortable (with INEC chairman’s stance on March 28).
I was not comfortable with it in the first time and I am still not comfortable with it, but he was being realistic. He said part of the reasons electoral violence refuses to abate was because law is not being enforced.
“If there is law enforcement, added to our own appeal, I think we will see abatement. But if there is selective law enforcement, because of this power of incumbency, then you cannot expect it to be abated.”
Source : Blueprint.ng