Yemisi Izuora/Ijeoma Agudosi
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has described the non-violence accord endorsed by President Goodluck Jonathan, his main opponent Gen. Mohammadu Buhari and nine other presidential aspirants ahead of the coming general elections.
Ibuchukwu Ezike, Exective Secretary of the CLO in a telephone conversation with Oriental News Nigeria, said proper conduct of political players in the election will go a long way to douse tension and violence that have characterised Nigeria’s elections in recent time.
Ezike in particular commended President Jonathan’s comments at the event which he said ought to be how leaders should look at events.
He however urged that candidates should give assurance that when elected into office resolution at the concluded national conference should form the bedrock of their administration as harmony reached by delegates if implemented will go a long way to address weaknesses of the constitution and strenghten institutions.
The agreement was signed on Wednesday at the 2015 General elections Sensitization Workshop On Non-violence, organized for the Presidential candidates of all political parties by the offices of the National Security Adviser and the Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs.
Key highlights of the accord include:
- To run issue based campaigns at national states and local government levels. In this, we pledge to refrain from campaigns that will involve religious sentiment, ethnic or tribal profiling, both by ourselves and all agents acting in our name.
- To refrain from making or causing to make in our names or that of our parties any public statement, pronouncement, declaration or speeches that have the capacity to incite any form of violence before, during and after the elections.
- To forcefully and publicly speak out against provocative utterances and oppose all act of electoral violence whether perpetuated by our supporters and, or opponents.
- To commit ourselves and political parties to the monitoring of the adherence of this accord if necessary, by a national peace committee made up of respected statesmen and women, traditional and religious leaders.
- All the institutions of government including INEC and security agencies must act and be seen to act with impartiality.
Speaking during the session, President Goodluck Jonathan declared that the screening of the political aspirants by their parties is not an effective tool and inadequate to weed out contestants with questionable conducts and past.
For the elections to be violence free, President Jonathan stressed the aspirants with alleged or confirmed records of criminalities must be identified and disqualified from contesting elective positions, insisting that such significant exercise could not be objectively handled by the political parties, except the jurist or alternatively, the intelligence agencies.
Another factor that prompts electoral violence according to the President indicated was utterance of provocative statements by the religion and ethnic leaders. He observed that the stage for confrontation would be set when religion leaders uttered threats or preach hatred against a particular political candidate, just as the possibility of the congregation taking to their spiritual leaders’ messages, was high, saying, that “the struggle to rule is not the struggle to conquer.”
The Presidential Candidate of APA, Alhaji Musa Ayeni in his presentation, said one of the factors for electoral violence was excessive funding of the country’s elections. He lamented that 33 million Nigerian youths were currently jobless; the figure he noted was the largest in the Africa.
He stressed that the country could not afford to throw out such a huge number of the youths who politicians use to foment troubles during elections. Alhaji Ayeni urged religion leaders to stop making statements that provoke violence.
The Chairman of the workshop and former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyouku in a five point “Abuja Accord” read at the end of the workshop that all the presidential candidates desired that they would take proactive measures to check violence before, during and after elections.