Presidential Candidates Sign Non-Violence Pact

Ahead of the February 14 Presidential election in Nigeria, the fourteen presidential candidates of the various political parties have signed a non-violence document titled: Abuja Accord.

Each of the candidates signed the document alongside their party national chairmen on Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotels and Tower, Ladi Kwali Hall, Abuja, the federal capital territory.

The document has five clauses. Its content states, among others that all the candidates will run issue based campaigns and refrain from campaigns that have to do with religious, ethnic and inflammatory statements.

It also required the candidates to refrain from speeches capable of instigating violence before, during and after the general elections; to openly speak out against violent statements from either members of their parties or political opponents and; to commit their party and party members to peace, before, during and after the elections.

The last clause states that: All institutions, including the Independent National Electoral commission, INEC and security agencies must be seen to act with impartiality during the polls.

Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary General and chairman of the organising committee who conducted the process of signing the document said the candidates have to append their signatures to the document as a commitment to the rules.

All the candidates took turns to pledge how their parties will ensure violence free elections.

Koffi Annan, former United Nations Secretary general is one of the international observers who attended the event.

Speaking at the event, Goodluck Jonathan, incumbent President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP opined that election violence in the country is mostly caused by three factors of provocative statements by the politicians, religious leaders confrontational and biased speeches, and violence inclined pronouncements by some ethnic leaders.

In the immediate, Jonathan said leaders at all levels should stop making statements that tend to instigate the people to be extremely violent, adding “We all must believe that the struggle to rule is not a struggle to conquer.”

Jonathan stated that the nation’s security need to be strengthened, while calling on INEC to ensure all eligible Nigerians vote at the elections to avoid cases of aggression on some electorates who may feel deprived of their rights, if unable to caste their vote.

The President therefore stated that in the long run the country needs to make policies and laws to guide against electoral violence.

He also stated that the current winner-takes-all parliamentary process in the country has to be reviewed with a view to reduce the anxiety and desperation in some politicians to get to power at all cost.

The President suggested that a law should be made to also compel the executive to share political appointments based on the percentage of winning across party lines –not to be left in the discretion of the sitting President or Governors alone.

President Jonathan suggested that INEC rules be reviewed to avoid confusion that normally occurs.

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