By Uche Amunike
The signing of the Nigeria Peace Accord commenced, Thursday, September 29 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja and was signed by all chairmen and presidential candidates of the registered 18 political parties under the supervision of the National Peace Committee, co-led by former Head-of-State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar; Cardinal John Onaiyekan; Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar 11 and Bishop Hassan Kukah, including other other eminent statesmen with the intent of supporting efforts at ensuring free, fair and credible elections in the country.
While the other 17 presidential candidates signed the pact in person, alongside their party chairmen, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu was the only candidate represented by his running mate, Alhaji Kashim Shettima.
Recall that former Nigerian Head of State and Chairman, National Peace Committee, Abdulsalami Abubakar, had stated, on Thursday September22, in Minna, after a meeting with committee members, that politicians contesting the 2023 presidential election are mandated to sign the Nigerian peace accord.
He noted that both politicians and their supporters usually create inciteful atmospheres that could endanger the peace in the country during electioneering campaigns. His words: ‘The pattern of public communication among political actors, their publicity agents, spokespersons, and media consultants has amplified the potential for personal attacks, insults, and incitement.’
He further stated that attacks by politicians and their supporters on their opponents ‘have relegated to the background, the civility and decency in public discourse and debate. It has shifted focus away from issue-based campaigns, to consolidating identity politics and the politics of thuggery.’
On his part, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his goodwill message, showed concern at the spate of personal attacks and incitements used by politicians during their campaigns and urged security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), politicians and stakeholders to place Nigeria first, above regional and sectional claims.
He also warned politicians against engaging in personal attacks instead of focusing on issue based campaigns.
He reiterated: ‘As the President, I have always reiterated my commitment to a peaceful, credible and transparent elections, and what the Peace Committee has been doing over the years, aligns with my belief that Nigeria needs peace in order to achieve credible elections.’
‘However, the rise of fake news and misinformation continue to pose a significant threat to the pattern of democracy in Nigeria. It has shifted focus away from issue-based campaigns to amplifying the potential for personal attacks, insults, and incitement. It has also significantly diminished the civility and decency in public discourse and debate.’
The presidential flag bearer of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore has said that the idea of signing a Nigeria Peace Accord ahead of the 2023 general election signifies that Nigeria is at war.
Speaking, during an interview on The Morning Show, in Arise TV, Sowore stated that he had nothing against signing the Nigeria Peace Accord, adding that he would sign it to let the people see that he subscribed to peace.
Hear him: ‘I don’t know why we’re signing this peace accord when we are not at war. This signifies that Nigeria is at war. Elections are a war in this country.’
‘For the sake of symbolism of this, I will show up there, and sign whatever they want so that the people can understand that I subscribe to peace during the election and after the election’, he said