With about two months to the 2019 elections in the country, we support the call by the National Peace Committee chaired by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), on the political parties to adhere to issue-based campaigns that will ensure peaceful and credible elections.
We also support the committee’s resolution that the political parties should adopt the 2015 code of conduct model that guided the 2015 elections, widely believed to be successful.
If the campaigns, so far, are anything to go by, there are legitimate concerns that unless politicians avoid making reckless comments, stay on the issues that matter to the electorate and play by the rules of the game, a peaceful and credible poll in 2019 may not be achieved. However, the good news is that the Abdulsalami-led committee and the political parties have agreed to adopt the 2015 code of conduct model to ensure peaceful and credible conduct of the 2019 elections.
The political parties and other stakeholders will meet on December 11 to formally sign a peace agreement for the conduct of the elections. Already, a member of the committee and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, His Grace Matthew Kukah, had presented the resolutions of the peace committee to the political parties’ representatives in Abuja. Interestingly, the political parties have agreed to adopt the same principles that helped to ensure a smooth election in 2015.
On paper, the conditions listed for peaceful elections appear lofty. They include the need for political parties and their candidates to create a favourable and conducive environment for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections; the need to refrain from incendiary statements or religious incitement, ethnic or tribal profiling by politicians or their agents.
The political parties are expected to commit themselves to the provisions of the peace accord and support the institutions of government and the security agencies to act and be seen to act with impartiality.
Under the initiative, the political parties and candidates are required to condemn provocative and inflammatory utterances or mudslinging against one another. The political parties have been urged to use their campaigns as platforms to explain how they can salvage the country from its present piteous situation.
Although optimistic, these conditions will achieve nothing if the political parties and their candidates observe them in the breach. Sadly, some utterances of key political actors, so far, lack decorum. They are laced with innuendoes and distorted facts.
We reiterate that this campaign season is the time for all the political parties and their candidates to showcase their leadership credentials and vision for the country. Nigerians expect concrete policy plans which are concisely expressed. The politicians should be reminded of the primary duty of government which is clearly stated in Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). No doubt, the electorate will vote for candidates that believe that government exists primarily to ensure the security and welfare of the people.
The integrity of our elections can only be ensured if it is peaceful and devoid of rigging and vote buying. The code of conduct designed by the peace committee is very important for the 2019 elections and all stakeholders must subscribe to it. It should be seen as one of the conditions for a peaceful election. Let the political class spare our country of avoidable crisis by playing the game according to the rules. We urge the politicians not to heat up the polity. As the peace committee rightly recommended, let the political parties embrace the code of conduct in their campaigns.
Let the candidates tell Nigerians what they can offer the country if they win the election. It is about promises that must be kept. Nigerians deserve a free, fair and credible election in 2019. We, therefore, enjoin the political parties and their candidates to adhere to issue-based campaigns, devoid of rancour and violence. We also urge INEC to monitor the campaigns and ensure that the political parties play according to the stipulated rules.