Saturday, March 28, 2015 1:30 pm
The Jonathan, Buhari Peace Accord And Its Caveat.
The preidential and National Assembly elections are holding today. There is no doubt that not a few Nigerians are apprehensive about possible post-election violence. It was for this reason that the two major combatants, President Goodluck Jonathan of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress,APC, presidential candidate, Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) signed a peace accord last Wednesday. That was the second time such a peace document was signed by the two gladiators. They did on 14 February, with nine other presidential candidates when they vowed to stick to free, credible and violence-free elections.
The second meeting, which took place at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Abuja, chaired by under the auspices of the General Abdulsalami Abubakar- led National Peace Committee on 2015 Elections. Present too at the occasion were the chairmen of both parties, Dr. Adamu Mu’azu, PDP, and Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, APC.
While such a document is laudable, we strongly submit that the two candidates, the organisers and Nigerians, should not regard it as an end in itself. All stakeholders must read and think deeply on the contents of the document. This is because, the agreement has a big proviso which all well meaning Nigerians should not overook.
That day, it was a member of the committee and Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Dr. Mathew Hassan Kukah, who read out what the two candidates signed. It goes thus:
“Renewal of Our Pledges to Peaceful Elections
You may recall that on January 14, 2015, both of us, along with nine other party leaders signed what has now come to be known as the Abuja Accord. The substance of that Accord was our commitment to free, fair and credible elections in our dear country. In the accord, we agreed to, among other things, run an issue-based campaign and pledged that our electoral campaigns will not involve any religious incitement, ethnic or tribal profiling, both by ourselves and all agents acting in our names.
Now that the campaigns have come to an end, we meet today to renew our pledge for peaceful elections. We therefore call on all fellow citizens of our dear country, and our party supporters, to refrain from violence or any acts that may in any way jeopardise our collective vision of a free, fair and credible election. In addition, we call on INEC and all security agencies to ensure strict adherence to their constitutional roles. We also pledge to respect the outcome of free, fair and credible elections. Today, we again renew our commitment to a united, democratic and prosperous Nigeria. We want all Nigerians to stand together at this critical phase of our nation’s history.”
However, that the document does not have a life of its own was made manifest when journalists asked Buhari if he would accept the outcome of the elections, whichever way. He, according to The Gardian, snapped back: “How can we give such guarantee? I said read the accord we signed, it said under free, fair and credible election, which is the caveat.”
Here lies the proviso. Such accord can only hold water if the election is free, fair and credible. All the parties, the candidates, the Federal Government, Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies must make sure the elections conform to these ideals. It is then that the pact can work and any individal that breaches the letters can be held responsible.