As the Election Day draws closer, Nigerian authorities are working without relent to ensure that the 2019 slated elections are conducted in a peaceful and serene atmosphere. As a result, the national peace committee under the auspices of committee chairperson General Abdulsalam Abubakar in conjunction with Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC headed by Mahmoud Yakubu in Abuja presented a ‘’memorandum of understanding for peace and tranquility’’ to be signed by all the presidential candidates and the chairmen of all the registered political parties in the country.
Among the big wing political elites that signed the accord were incumbent and outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Party, APP, his main challenger Atiku Abubakar, front runner of the main opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP.
WHAT IS THE PEACE ACCORD?
The Peace Accord in this context refers to an undertaking by all the presidential candidates, especially the main actors to ensure peaceful and free campaigns before, during and after the 2019 general elections. The peace accord initiative was brought to light by former Nigerian presidents in 2015. The political atmosphere was so tense between political parties especially between then president Goodluck Jonathan and current leader Muhammadu Buhari, thereby undermining state security and there were also instances of hate speech and threats. The only way out of the troubles was to oblige party candidates to sign an undertaking vowing to avoid scenarios that could perturb the serenity of an already troubled country. (Nigeria has been battling with the Boko Haram insurgency and the farmer herders fight for some years)
WHY THE PEACE ACCORD
With the uncertainty and restive nature of most parts of the country, especially the north east area, there are fears this could jeopardize or affect the peaceful run of the landmark February elections in Nigeria. This greatly explains why the authorities introduced the peace accord. In essence, the accord obliges political candidates to shun from hate speech, censor activities and educate their supporters on the importance of a peaceful atmosphere during elections. According to the committee; this will partly and greatly influence a free, fair and transparent vote on February 6th 2019. In the meantime, the United States has applauded the move by the 2019 presidential contenders to ink the vital peace accord, saying it represents a milestone and a possibility of peaceful; free, fair and credible elections.
Controversies (Threats to the peace accord)
Even though front runners of different political parties in Nigeria have inked the peace accord, main opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar has expressed doubts of an anticipated free, fair and credible election, citing the failure of President Buhari to sign the amended electoral bill presented by the National Assembly. Among other things, the new bill seeks to address the issue of card readers by making it obligatory, permits the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to present identities and logo of political parties before elections. Mixed feelings remain high especially as the Catholic Church has criticized Buhari for not signing the bill. According to president Buhari, the bill if signed would infringe on the 2019 electoral process.
Notwithstanding, campaigns that would lead Nigerians to the polls on February 16th 2019 remain ongoing as presidential candidates woo voters. Most of them have promised to tackle unemployment and insecurity in the West African Nation.
AFRIC Editorial Article.