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Concerns Over Orgy Of Violence, Insecurity Ahead 2015 Polls

Peace-pix-17-1-15AS the campaign for the next month general elections gathers momentum across the country, certain political events have signaled that there is need for caution and restraint among the political parties, especially the two major ones, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the major opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and their followers to avoid plunging the country into another pre or post-election crisis.

  It was the former Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi who first made the passionate appeal to the two presidential candidates of the ruling PDP, President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of the APC to sign a Memorandum of Undertaking (MoU) committing themselves to a peaceful balloting in 2015.       

  Akinyemi further appealed to some prominent Nigerians to constitute a Council of Wise Men to facilitate a pre-election meeting between the candidates, prepare the MoU and assist in managing any post-election conflicts.

  Those he solicited their assistance are: The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III; the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II; the Lamido of Adamawa, Alhaji Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba Erediauwa; Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor; Pastor Enoch Adeboye; and former Heads of State, General Yakubu Gowon and General Abdulsalami Abubakar.

  Akinyemi recalled the post-2011 election violence against which he had forewarned the late National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoye Azazi, all to no avail.

  Akinyemi’s fear started manifesting even before the elections. In Rivers State, some members of APC who were on their way to Buhari’s presidential campaignrally in Port Harcourt were waylaid and shot by unknown gunmen. Not quite long after the incident, some PDP members in the state were attacked also. As if that was not enough, the APC ultra-modern secretariat in Okirika council area of Rivers State was bombed.    

  This prompted some members of APC in the state to stage a peaceful protest to the police headquarters in Port Harcourt, accusing the force of negligence and partisanship.

  In Plateau State, some campaign buses of President Goodluck Jonathan were burnt by some angry youths alleged to be members of APC in the state. Last Sunday, the private home of the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun was invaded by unknown gunmen. Across the country, there have been pockets of violence among party members, probably the PDP and APC that have claimed several lives and property.

  These ugly incidents are unfolding in the face of the Boko Haram insurgency that is threatening to take over the entire Northeast of the country. Just like Akinyemi, many Nigerians have expressed concerns and fears that the utterances and body languages of politicians and their followers ahead of the forthcoming may stoke political violence that could consume the entire country.

  While some of such utterances are inciting and divisive, others are uncalled for, desperate and capable of plunging the country into crisis.                 

  It was in view of this development that the office of National Security Adviser in collaboration with other international agencies brought the presidential candidates of political parties together to sign an undertaking to avoid actions that could promote violence during and after the polls.

  At an event attended by former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Anan, and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, seven presidential candidates including frontrunners, President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, openly spoke against violence and committed to a peaceful poll.

  Mr. Jonathan urged politicians to avoid actions and utterances capable of inflaming passion among the electorate.

  The president said the country must avoid a repeat of the 2011 post-general elections, which he said was adjudged the best in the country’s history. He said the conduct of the election cannot be blamed for the outbreak of violence, since he even lost in the states were clashes erupted leading to hundreds of deaths.

  Buhari called for the strengthening of democratic institutions in Nigeria. He said before every general election, there is usually amendment to the Electoral Act, but this year, nothing of such has been done.

  Former UN Secretary General, Annan, said Nigeria must do all to avoid conflict because of its strategic importance to the West African region.

   



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