The National Peace Committee (NPC) led by former head of state, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd), has commenced work ahead of the 2019 general election, saying no force can stop the will of the people in the forthcoming polls.
The committee yesterday met with chairman of the Independent Electoral Committee (INEC), staff of the commission, security agencies and leaders of the 91 political parties in the country.
It also released a book containing reports on Nigeria’s peaceful transition and how it saved several lives before, during and after the 2015 general election.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP shortly after the meeting with stakeholders, Secretary of the committee and Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah, said despite outcry here and there, the 2019 general election solely depends on Nigerians.
Noting that if the people are determined, no force can stop their will in 2019, Kukah said primarily, “it depends on the decision individuals take”, adding that INEC may do its best, but human variables will determine what to expect.
He stated: “The elections of 2019 depend on Nigerians. If we are determined, no force can stop the will of the people. The will of the people has to be channeled for the good of the country.
“So, nobody can tell you whether the elections will be free or fair. It is helpful that INEC is explaining the level of it preparedness; it is helpful that people are also calling on the security agencies to do the right thing. What INEC and the security agencies can substitute is what the individuals decide to do”.
Kukah also disclosed that the entire members of the peace committee are very pleased with the efforts of INEC, especially the way the chairman presented their activities.
He said, “It does seem very clear to me that there is improvement on the way things are done. And by the grace of God, there is going to be a better improvement on the 2015 general election. Our hope is that the next elections after this will see greater improvement”.
Dispelling insinuations that the 2019 will be a threat to the country’s unity, he said, “As you are going forward, there should be improvement. We are happy now that we are not complaining about ballot box snatching. What we are complaining about now is vote buying. This is not one person’s job; it is for all of us.
“Elections cannot be a threat to our unity in that sense. Elections are supposed to validate all the aspirations Nigerians have as a people. It is the responsibility of the political parties to convince us on how they can improve the quality of the ordinary Nigerian.
“The objective of every political party is to offer a template of activities that suggest it has a solution to our problems. Otherwise, it does not matter which party wins. It should be the party that has the best opportunity of fixing our country”.
Speaking earlier, chairman of the committee, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) regretted that the polity has been overheated, just as he said as elder statesmen they won’t allow the peace of Nigeria to be tempered with.
This, he noted, explains why they have decided to step up their action to ensure that there is peace in the country.
Briefing journalists on their meeting with INEC and security agencies, Abubakar said, “As you are all aware, we are approaching 2019 elections and already, you are very much aware how the polity is being heated. Politicians must play by the rules of the game and also the security agencies and INEC must play their role accordingly.
“This morning we have interacted with the INEC chairman and his staff and also we have security agencies here who have role to play in this election. All in all we have had a briefing and then later this afternoon we are going to meet with the political parties.
“The INEC chairman has told us they are 91 registered political parties. In furtherance to ensuring that the peace continues, we are going to listen to them and hear their complaints and also appeal to them to make sure that this politics is played without bitterness.
“As you are very much aware, if there is no peace in any country, there will be no country at all, so this is the essence of this meeting to ensure that we are all on the same page to ensure that there is peace in our country.”
He disclosed that the peace committee will continue to engage authorities and all stakeholders to ensure that the right thing is done.
“Sensitise your members to do all they can to maintain the peace,” Abubakar advised the leaders of political parties, urging them to ensure that provocations are minimised during campaigns.
“The committee will ensure peace, fairness and justice in the elections. If you have anything to tell the committee, please feel free,” the elder statesman added.
The National Peace Committee, which launched a report of the 2015 general election tagged, “The Untold,” said it helped to turn what was expected to be Nigeria’s most violent election into the most remarkable signpost in Nigeria’s electoral history.
“For the first time, an incumbent president conceded defeat to his opponent even before the final results were announced,” the report noted, adding that their efforts saved the lives of many Nigerians.
On their part, political parties said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies should suspend investigation of politicians until after the 2019 general elections.
According to some of their speakers, the anti-corruption agencies seem to be working for the interest of some few individuals to hunt the opposition.
They expressed fears over the attitudes of some security heads, claiming they are showing open partisanship.
National publicity secretary, Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Akinloye Oyeniyi, said, “We are worried because in Osun State, the same day a candidate was organising his final rally, IGP invited him for interrogation. EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies should suspend investigation until after the election”.
He said they view some of the interrogations by the anti-corruption agencies as “working for some people in government”.
“On the issue of a level playing ground, the committee has a lot to do than 2015″ he added. We were born here. We have nowhere to go. Everything enters into Nigeria but when it comes to election, INEC must maintain the rule of law,” ANN publicity secretary told the peace committee.
The National Peace Committee, which emerged without legal backing, was seen as the most credible and trusted body in the 2015 electoral process.
This was due partly to the high moral authority it commanded in the minds of Nigerians given the personalities who constituted it, and also the non-partisanship of its members.
The profile and integrity of the members of the committee contributed to its independence, as they could not be easily manipulated or intimidated by the government or any political party.
To the effect, the committee’s report noted: “Given what has been the culture of sit-tight leadership in Africa where leaders have often preferred to sacrifice the lives of their people on the altars of their own ambitions, and given even Nigeria’s experience with its own leaders seeking to manipulate their ways into power, the outcome of Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election cycle was indeed worth celebrating.
“This also had a direct knock on effect on later developments in the subsequent elections that followed. The nation watched as many governors and members of the National Assembly who lost elections willingly conceded to their opponents. For the first time Nigeria’s elections almost turned out to be a celebration of brotherhood and sisterhood in what can at best be described as the burgeoning of our nascent democracy.
“The 2015 General elections witnessed the lowest number of court cases. For the first time since 1999, the Presidential Elections were not contested in court. The culture and practice of acceptance of election results saved Nigeria from the ugly past of post-electoral violence. The cost of lives and property that could have been destroyed in post-electoral violence in 2015 would have been unquantifiable.
APC Releases Mode Of Primaries For States, FCT
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has approved the mode of primaries for Saturday governorship primary elections scheduled to hold across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on September 29, 2018.
The party leadership also placed a ban on the Adamawa State Working Committee from participating either as delegates or superintend over the governorship primaries holding in the state, saying it showed tendencies of favouritism.
This information, which was contained in a statement by the APC spokesman, Yekini Nabena, puts an end to speculations as to the system of primaries to be adopted ahead of the exercise this weekend.
The breakdown of mode of primaries in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are as follows: Abia – Direct Primaries, Adamawa – Indirect Primaries, Akwa Ibom – Direct Primaries, Anambra-Direct Primaries, Bauchi – Direct Primaries, Bayelsa-Direct Primaries, Benue -Indirect Primaries, Borno – Indirect Primaries, Cross River – Direct Primaries, Delta- Indirect Primaries, Ebonyi- Indirect Primaries, Enugu – Indirect Primaries
Edo- Direct Primaries, Ekiti – Direct Primaries, Gombe – Indirect Primaries, Imo – Direct Primaries, Jigawa – Indirect Primaries, Kaduna – Indirect Primaries and Kano – Direct Primaries.
Other are Katsina- Indirect Primaries, Kebbi – Indirect Primaries, Kogi- Indirect Primaries Kwara- Indirect Primaries, Lagos- Direct Primaries, Nasarawa -Indirect Primaries, Niger – Direct Primaries, Ogun – Direct Primaries, Ondo – Direct Primaries Osun – Direct Primaries, Oyo – Indirect Primaries, Plateau – Indirect Primaries, Rivers – Indirect Primaries, Sokoto – Indirect Primaries, Taraba – Direct Primaries, Yobe- Indirect Primaries, Zamfara – Direct Primaries and FCT – Direct Primaries.
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