On the eve of elections: Presidential front-runners renew pledges to peaceful polls, and respect outcomeMar 27, 2015
The UNDP’s supported National Peace Committee (NPC) for the 2015 Elections in Nigeria continues to engage all stakeholders, political and non-political, in an effort to ensure that the country conducts the elections in a violent-free manner. The Committee, comprising of Nigeria’s eminent individuals drawn from diverse backgrounds, has been providing a platform through which political stakeholders have continued to highlight issues that would contribute a much needed for peaceful electoral process as spelt out in the Abuja Accord signed early in January this year.
With just a day before Nigeria’s General Elections, the two presidential front-runners, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan Presidential of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have issued a Joint Statement in Abuja renewing their commitment to peaceful elections. This was done in front of the media following a closed-door meeting of the two presidential front-runners, facilitated by the NPC in Abuja, on Thursday, 26 March 2015. The Session, which was facilitated by the Chairman of the Committee, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, was the climax of a week-long series of activities undertaken by the Committee, with the support of UNDP Nigeria, as it continued to provide a channel for interaction among different stakeholders in the country’s electoral process. The Committee had earlier met with the Chairmen and Executive of the two leading political parties, the PDP and the APC, leaders of Election Observation Missions, media leaders, business leaders, women and youth groups.
In the new Accord, the two candidates called on Nigerians to “refrain from violence or any acts that may in any way jeopardize the collective vision of a free, fair and credible election”. In addition, they “called on the country election management body, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and all Security Agencies to ensure strict adherence to their constitutional roles” and pledged to “respect the outcome of free, fair and credible elections”. Whilst renewing their commitment to a united, democratic and prosperous Nigeria, they appealed to all Nigerians to stand together at this critical phase in the country’s history.
The latest reaffirmation to peaceful elections will contribute to conflict prevention as candidates pledge to respect the outcome of the elections. Present at the signing Ceremony were the Vice-Chairman of the Peace Committee, Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe and other ranking members including the Sultan of Sokoto, His Excellency, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, John Cardinal Onaiyekan of the Catholic Church and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
Since the signing of the Abuja Accord, UNDP has continued its support to enhancing peace in Nigeria through its support to the process leading to the setting up of a National Peace Committee that is monitoring adherence to the Abuja Accord, sensitising Nigerians on peace and mediate in election-related conflicts.
From its formative stage, UNDP Nigeria continues to provide advisory, technical and financial support to the Secretariat of the Committee. Support has been provided in drafting the Terms of Reference for the Committee, its workplan and Communication Strategy. Additional support has been provided in implementing the committee’s outreach programmes and development of the Post-Election Dispute Resolution Framework.
Also, as part of its integrated support to the follow-up to the signing of the Abuja Accord, UNDP has supported the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) and Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD) to popularise the Abuja Accord, sensitize Nigerians at the grassroots on peaceful elections and mobilise religious and traditional leaders in Nigeria towards ensuring peaceful elections. UNDP’s support to peaceful elections is expected to contribute to the development of a National Peace Infrastructure for Nigeria in the post-election period.