For second time in three months, leading politicians in the country yesterday in Abuja took turns to sign a bond, committing them to peaceful conduct during the general election, starting on Saturday with the presidential and National Assembly polls.
Led by the two main actors, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the politicians agreed not to do anything that would disrupt the peace of the nation during and after the contests.
The accord signing was facilitated by the National Peace Committee, convened by Bishop Matthew Kukah, and chaired by former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, witnessed the signing.
Speaking during the ceremony, Buhari appealed to Nigerians, particularly the youth, not to allow themselves to be used for any kind of violence during the elections.
On his part, Atiku said his ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian, appealing once again to every staff and the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to be fair arbiters while letting neutrality prevail.
The peace committee, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), EU and members of the civil society groups also called on INEC and security agencies to ensure strict adherence to their constitutional roles during the elections.
The president advised citizens to cooperate with all relevant agencies at the polls, adding that more than anything else citizens should use the election period to strengthen their beliefs in a united Nigeria.
He said: “To all our citizens, I want to thank you. As we go into the elections in few days, please let us pray for our country. Let us use this opportunity to strengthen our beliefs in a united country. Our elections are important only to the extent that they make our country peaceful and prepare us for development.
“I am making a special appeal to our young people: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence. Please eschew all forms of violence and cooperate with all the relevant agencies during these elections.
‘’We will vote according to parties, but in the end, the only real Party is Nigeria, our country. Our elections are important only to the extent that they make her strong. Let us do our best and ask God to bless us and our country.”
Buhari who said the election had created anxiety in the atmosphere, added that the polls would be special because they are significant for Nigeria’s democratic growth, and hence, the anxiety it had generated within and outside Nigeria.
While appealing to Nigerians to make contributions towards a viable polity by a more active participation beyond the mere casting of votes, Buhari observed that various campaigns so far had gone well.
He also appealed to his fellow presidential candidates to abide by the accord being signed Wednesday by accepting the final outcome of the polls with a view to guaranteeing peace in the land and the safety of citizens.
The president also said he had ensured that the INEC was given all that it needed to conduct a successful general election as he commended the international community as well as the National Peace Committee for their efforts towards the success of the polls.
‘’I appeal to my fellow contestants to commit to these ideals so as to keep our country and people safe. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, our electoral Umpire, has already assured us that they have done everything possible to ensure free and fair elections,” Buhari said.
He thanked the peace committee for the hard work it had put into ensuring that the elections are peaceful.