Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Chairman and Convener of the National Peace Committee (NPC), General Abdusalami Abubakar and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, respectively, have called on Nigerians to rise up and defend the country’s democracy.
In a joint statement released in Abuja, yesterday, Abdulsalami and Kukah said although the elections shift was painful, they urged citizens to still perform their civic duties on Saturday.
NPC waxed spiritual and urged Nigerians to remain hopeful because “God is perfect and All-knowing. We are human, He is the God of history and all power belongs to Him alone. He will give to whom He wishes, how, and when He wishes. We are merely instruments of His plans. It is against this background that we wish to appeal to our fellow citizens,” NPC said.
The panel recalled the peace pact by President Muhammadu Buhari and other presidential candidates; few days to the election but reiterated that the polls shift was shocking as it was least expected from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“However, nothing could have prepared anyone for the shock announcement by INEC, barely six hours to the elections in the morning of February 16. Although, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has already addressed the nation and leaders of all the political parties, very little has happened to assuage the deep feeling of embarrassment, pain, and disappointment across the land.
“The impact of this decision has permeated every stratum of our lives and has the potential to dampen the confidence of our people in the political process. It has further deepened anxieties within the international community about our country.
“There is enough blame to pass around. The real challenge now is for us as a nation, to reach out to the deepest instincts of faith in God and our country. We must put everything aside and see this as a battle that all of us must win. The challenge is not who to sacrifice, but what sacrifice to make. The only way we can ensure a steady democracy is for us to learn the lessons from these sad developments. Therefore, we appeal to you not to count the cost of the setback but respond to the call to patriotism. Do not relent, go out and fulfil your duty to your family and country on election day. We will soon turn the corner in hope. Rather than despair, rise up to defend our Democracy,” NPC added.
To the political class, NPC said: “…The politicians must own this process by showing their readiness to collaborate with INEC and to inspire our people to new heights. The challenge before you goes beyond the narrowness of political opportunities.
“Be temperate in your language so that we do not inadvertently set up our people for violence. Sadly, for us, politics of the last few years have further polarised our people along dangerous religious, regional, ethnic and party lines.”