2015 Nigeria General Elections: Presidential Candidates pledge peace, sign AccordJan 14, 2015
Presidential candidates in Nigeria’s forthcoming General Elections reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful electoral process. At a landmark event in Abuja aimed at soaking up political tension in Africa’s largest economy, the candidates signed a five-point agreement, the Abuja Accord, which spells out keys areas of commitment to a peaceful poll in 2015. President Goodluck Jonathan, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and nine other presidential candidates signed the Accord.
The candidates commitment to “take proactive measures to prevent electoral violence before, during and after the elections… reaffirm commitment to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, [and] desirous of promoting the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria as an indivisible entity, determined to avoid any conduct or behaviour that will endanger the political stability and national security of Nigeria,… to place national interest above personal and partisan concern. They further reaffirmed their “commitment to fully abide by all rules and regulations as laid down in the legal framework for elections in Nigeria”.
The presidential flag-bearers, made this commitment in the presence of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, development partners including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (USA, UK, France, China and Russia), as well as traditional and religious leaders.
Through the agreement candidates pledged to; base their campaigns on issues rather than religious, ethnic or tribal lines; through pronunciations, refrain from inciting violence, instead speak out against it including provocative speeches or actions. They further committed to monitoring adherence to the Accord by all parties to it. The candidates called on all institutions of government including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to not just act and but also be seen to act with impartiality. Nigeria goes to the polls on February 14 2015.
President Goodluck Jonathan urged INEC to remain resolute and vigilant in ensuring fair-play. The President also called on contestants to remain true to the tenets of the principles of peaceful campaign. “If we can all commit to this, I think we will come out of the February 2015 general elections united and stronger” 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” earlier the President had said.
While highlighting the growing economic prowess of Nigeria as Africa’s largest economy, Mr. Kofi Annan called on Nigerians not to perceive elections as the sole responsibility of the INEC, rather as a collective task whose success lied in their hands. He expressed confidence in a united post-election Nigeria, emphasizing that “Nigeria’s success will be Africa’s success.”
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Daouda Toure pledged continuous support from the UN family’s INEC, and CSOs towards efforts to deepen democracy and sustaining development in the country. Mr. Toure pointed out the role Nigeria plays in the region and Africa as a whole and the need to maintain good leadership principles in order to foster development and peace. “Let Nigeria be the winner” he said.
Opposition frontrunner Muhammadu Buhari, while committing his party to peaceful conduct during the electoral process, narrated his past electoral experiences and urged INEC to draw lessons from previous elections in effectively managing the 2015 polls.
INEC Chairman, Professor Atahiru Jega warned against exploiting differences in ethnicity and religion among the population for political gains as the same time pointed out that elections were at the heart of any genuine democracy.
As a follow-up to the signing of this Accord, UNDP will continue supporting the government and people of Nigeria in promoting good governance and peace. Specific support will be provided towards the National Peace Committee, which has the responsibility of monitoring adherence to the Accord, once established. Further support will be provided towards popularising the Abuja Accord among the general public and continue engaging stakeholders on the need to maintain peace during and after the elections.
The sensitization workshop at which the Accord was signed was organised with support from UNDP through the Democratic Governance for Development Project (DGDII) in collaboration with the Office of the Special Advisor to The President on Inter-Party Affairs, the Office of the National Security Advisor to the President and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.
DGD II, a-joint-donor funded project managed by UNDP in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria. The DGDII project is funded with contributions from the European Union (EU), UKAid, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) and UNDP. The project provides technical and financial support to INEC, civil society organizations and institutions such as, the Media, National Assembly, and political parties as a means of strengthening accountable and responsive governance institutions and consolidating democratic governance in line with international best practices.