…Let’s Eschew All Forms of Violence…Buhari Mr Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) borrowed a prosaic line from a stalwart of his party and former President, Goodluck Jonathan when he spoke after signing a peace accord in Abuja on Wednesday. “My political ambition is not worth the life of any Nigerian,”
…Let’s Eschew All Forms of Violence…Buhari
Mr Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) borrowed a prosaic line from a stalwart of his party and former President, Goodluck Jonathan when he spoke after signing a peace accord in Abuja on Wednesday.
“My political ambition is not worth the life of any Nigerian,” Atiku said at the event held at the International Conference Center, Abuja.
Said the former Vice President, “As we prepare to sign off on this Peace Accord, as representatives of our party and people, may I freely quote the words of former President Goodluck Jonathan, which remains a benchmark, for me, taking into account the deep feelings that prevail as February 16th, 2019, approaches: ‘My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian’”
It will be recalled that Jonathan on January 8, 2015 in the build up to the 2015 general elections said his political ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
Atiku urged the leadership and staff of INEC, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security agencies to be fair arbiters in the general election by being neutral.
He urged the security agencies to demonstrate fair play by not embarking on “indiscriminate arrest of members of the opposition or their supporters’’ before the election.
“I also appeal to Buhari to use his good office to ensure that every eligible person who cast his vote is confident in the process, and in the belief that his vote will count,’’ he said.
Atiku also reminded other candidates that the election is about the country’s future, and so must abide by the will of Nigerians.
“May I use this opportunity to renew my profound gratitude, firstly to my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and then to General Abdulsalami Abubakar and members of the Peace Committee for their tireless enthusiasm, dedication, and passion towards ensuring the success of this Peace Accord Process,” Atiku, said.
“Our gathering here today clearly demonstrates the importance of the upcoming elections as well as how our democracy has matured, not only to our people, but also to the international community whose solidarity, Nigeria’s democracy has benefited from.”
“In this context, I appeal once again to every staff and the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police Force, to be fair arbiters in the upcoming elections while letting neutrality prevail.”
“For emphasis and in the spirit of fair play, I also urge our security agencies, not to embark on indiscriminate arrests of members of the opposition, 24 to 48 hours before elections, as has been the case in previous elections.”
“Hopefully, our democracy should emerge stronger from this process with the 2019 elections proving better managed than the 2015 process, which was adjudged free and fair with the then opposition’s victory unobstructed,”
Also speaking at the event, President Muhammadu Buhari advised Nigerians to see the forthcoming general elections as an opportunity to strengthen the country’s unity.
While calling on Nigerians to come out massively to cast their votes, Buhari advised all stakeholders to put national interest above all other considerations.
“The elections are important only to the extent that they make the country peaceful and prepare us for development. I am making a special appeal to our young people: do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence.”
“Please eschew all forms of violence and cooperate with all the relevant agencies during the election. We will vote according to parties, but at the end, the only real party is Nigeria, our country. Our elections are important only to the extent that they make us strong. Let’s us do our best and ask God to bless us and our country,’’ he said.
Buhari, who is the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been given adequate resources to conduct the election, stressing that the various security agencies had been fully briefed on their roles and responsibilities to ensure that the exercise is successful.
The accord was at the instance of the National Peace Committee chaired by former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
The signing was witnessed by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, and Ms Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Mathew Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Dioceses, and other members of the National Peace Committee (NPC), were also in attendance.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian government to protect the people from violence before, during and after the coming general elections.
Ahead of the polls scheduled for February 16 and March 2, the human rights organisation also called for the full respect for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
It said there have been several instances of violence at election campaign rallies in some states, including the deaths of four people in clashes between rival political supporters in Kano State in December 2018.
“The election-related violence in states such as Kano, Kwara, Kogi, Rivers, Taraba and Bayelsa is deeply troubling and, if not urgently addressed, will undermine respect for human rights throughout the election period,” Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Ms Osai Ojigho, said in a statement on Wednesday.
She added, “Amnesty International has received reports of supporters of some politicians violently targeting political opponents, real or perceived.”
“The authorities must stamp out any potential impunity by ensuring these incidents are investigated and that those suspected to be responsible are brought to justice.”
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode has also urged residents to conduct themselves peacefully at the polling units and shun any act of violence or misconduct that could threaten peace of the state.
Ambode gave the advice on Wednesday in Lagos, saying that the nation was on a threshold of history as the outcome of the elections would be a defining moment in Nigeria’s political and economic landscape.
He urged residents to see the election as one that they must not sit on the fence, but come out to exercise their franchise albeit in a peaceful and orderly manner, devoid of rancour and all forms of electoral violence.
“As we prepare for the Presidential and National Assembly elections, I appeal to every Lagosian to ensure that the peace we have enjoyed in the last four years in the state is replicated across all the polling units and voting centres on Saturday.”
“Your PVC is your voice and it is what you will need to cast your vote. I urge you to come out, be orderly, take your place on the queue and avoid any form of violence that can mar the process or put the lives of our peace loving citizens at risk,” he said.
Ambode said that he would be casting his vote for candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Presidential and all the National Assembly elections.
According to him, Lagos in the last four years had benefitted immensely from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
He listed some of the key capital projects which the state had initiated with the support of the Federal Government.
According to him, they include the release of Oshodi-Muritala Muhammed Airport Road for reconstruction; release of land space in Oshodi for the construction of the interchange and terminus.
Others were the release of Oshodi-Abule Egba lane for BRT and the release of the Presidential Lodge, Marina for the Lagos History Centre project; the ongoing road infrastructure works in Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Badagry-Seme and Ikorodu axis.
Ambode said these were the intervention projects that President Buhari expeditiously approved to be carried out in the state.
“The fact is that since 1999, Lagos has never benefitted from the Federal Government under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, the way it has benefited in the last three and half years.”
“Most of the interventions that we have carried out have made life more meaningful to the average resident of the state. Beyond reasonable doubt, President Buhari has shown his love for Lagos and under his administration, Lagos has thrived. It is important that we continue on this trajectory for another four years,” Ambode said.