‘We Should Be Mindful Of Our Conducts’

Makarfi-pix-17-1-15Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance and former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, cautioned politicians to avoid inflammatory statements in their campaigns to save the country from violence in next month’s elections. He also urged the presidential candidates to go beyond the peace pact they endorsed to promote free, fair and credible polls.

THE ongoing campaigns have witnessed some violence in some states; hence apprehensive over the coming elections. What is your reaction on this?

  It is very unfortunate. I believe it was more out of desperation for power by we, politicians. 

  On Wednesday, there was signing of a declaration by the presidential candidates to abhor violence, such that we conduct ourselves in a manner that would create a violence-free political atmosphere. 

  Here in Kaduna State, the Commissioner of Police had a meeting with candidates contesting this year’s elections on making the elections violence-free. 

  The problem of violence is of concern to all of us. It is not enough to just sign a declaration; it is also for us, as individuals, in all our actions to send the signal that violence has no place in this elections. 

  In our interactions with followers and supporters, we must continue to drum this into them. In our public speeches, we must continue to drum this into the heads of our people. 

  With effective advocacy, we can drastically reduce the risk of violence. Unprecedented violence can erupt either during canvassing for votes or after the declaration of results, and that would be very unfortunate. 

  It would amount to nothing with the billions of naira spent to give solace to those affected by the 2011 violence. It could have been better spent on other meaningful things, particularly with the meagre resources available to government. 

  Also, institutions in charge of elections, including INEC and security agencies, must act in a responsible manner. They must not be seen to be taking sides. They must continue to send signals that would build the level of confidence in the participants and show that they are unbiased and neutral and that the outcome of an election is basically the result of people’s choice. 

  Even the media must project violence-free politicking. 

  It is a collective responsibility. We have had enough violence already in the land. So, we should not introduce another wave of political violence that may lead to more loss of lives and properties. 

Some people are also saying that if the conditions for free, fair and credible elections are not available, this may precipitate violence? 

  Of course, not abiding by conditions for free, fair and credible election is a threat to conduct of elections. 

  INEC, either by omission or commission, must not disenfranchise any eligible voter. It is not the fault of the voter that he/she does have the Permanent Voters Card (PVC). He/she may have a temporary card and it is the responsibility of INEC to ensure that he/she gets the permanent one and/or vote.   

  You cannot say they should wait until another time before they can have the right to vote.

  In the northeastern part of the country, the security situation is one major issue and the fate of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is another. Most of the IDPs have their temporary voters’ card misplaced. May be in the process of the crisis, their houses got burnt and to save their lives, they ran away. So, fresh registration can take care of this. 

  I hope INEC has really taken steps to ensure that these people, wherever they may be, are registered and eligible to vote. All I am saying is that nobody should be disenfranchised. 

  Of course, we must also bring normalcy, not just for the sake of elections. The lives we are losing is too much. Even in a complete total war, we may not lose the number of lives that we are losing now. 

  So, we must take steps to restore normalcy in all the trouble spots. 

What is your reaction to statements that threaten peaceful conduct of elections from politicians?

  We should check our conduct as a people. It is a collective responsibility. While canvassing for votes, we should be mindful of our conducts. While casting votes and when the results are declared, we must act responsibly. Otherwise, what we fear may occur. 

  It is a collective responsibility that all of us should maintain proper conduct. We are all duty bound to ensure that our actions promote a peaceful conduct of the elections and also abide by the electoral process.

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