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Abuja Peace Accord Must Work

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Since the signing of the Peace Accord by the 14 parties involved in the 2015 elections, the nation and the world have sadly watched with bated breath, the honour of the accord and its breach by the two major parties, the All Progressives Congress  and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

The Peace Accord was signed at the “2015 General Elections Sensitization Workshop on Non-Violence” organized on January 10, 2015 by the Office of the Nation­al Security Adviser in conjunction with the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs.

The Abuja Peace Accord was initiated by concerned Nigerians and lovers of the nation, including a former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and a former Commonwealth Secretary- General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, to stem the tide of divisive campaigns threatening the forthcoming elections and, by extension the peace and life of the nation.

The candidates of all the political parties signed the Peace Accord and embraced each other after the exercise, thus giving the world the impression that the dangling dagger had been sheathed.

But the nation and the world were mistaken. Hardly had the signing ink died up before the media handlers of the APC and the PDP resumed their hate speeches, revulsive media advertisements and campaigns of calumny in worse frenetic tones and form.

Sixteen days after the signing of the Accord, precisely on January 25, 2015, the Secretary of State of the United State of America, John Kerry, possibly sensing, like all discerning Nigerians that all was not well with the campaigns, visited the presidential candidate of the PDP and incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and his APC counterpart, General Muhammadu  Buhari, to sue for violence-free elections and to advise that the elections be held as scheduled.

On February 7, 2015, two weeks after Kerry’s visit, the elections were rescheduled, thus further worsening the apprehension of the nation and rubbishing the essence of Kerry’s visit and counsel, and the Peace Accord.

A recent proof that all is not well with the Peace Accord is the visit by the representative of the Africa Union and a former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, last week, to the APC and the PDP candidates, to allegedly sue for peace and elicit a pledge from the two candidates that they will accept the outcome of the elections.

Ordinarily, this should have been a confirmation that the cloud of fear hanging on the nation in respect of the election has been diffused. But with the relentless hate campaigns after Mbeki’s visit, it is obvious that President Jonathan and General Buhari are deaf to voices of reason. This is an ominous sign that the political climate may be far from being peaceful. We warn that this is dangerous.

Can candidates who have defied all the set and known rules of campaign and revered voices be trusted to accept the outcome of the same elections?

Heads of State and Government are known to flee to neighbouring countries after plunging their countries into crisis. We dare ask: in the event of crisis arising from their strong stance, where will the candidates of the two leading political parties head for after disparaging international and continental counsel? Is asylum possible after defying respected colleagues? The two candidates should use their tongues to count their teeth.

Given its teeming population, and economic and business weight, it is expensive for Nigeria to slide into violence and disintegration as the feeble and shattering region and world cannot cope with the implications.

The nation’s political space is replete with stories of maneuvers and intrigues to compromise the March 28 elections and the nation’s emerging democracy. But the hewers of crisis should read the mood of the nation. They should know that the indices that informed the shifting of the election four weeks ago are neither existent nor acceptable any more.

There is no substitute for democracy. The owners of the polity, the Nigerian people, want democracy. And they will not accept any substitute under whatever guise come May 29, 2015.

As former Head of State and incumbent President, honour and statesmanship demand that General Buhari and Dr. Jonathan should listen to their distinguished colleagues at the AU. They should also demonstrate statesmanship now by honoring the Peace Accord they signed with other candidates. And it starts from reining in their aides, approaching the elections with all sense of responsibility and avoiding intrigues that may compromise or derail the elections.

These two leader-candidates should realize that they have failed integrity test so far. But the real test is in their conduct in the forthcoming elections. If they pass it, the past will be forgotten. If they fail, whatever they have lived their lives to achieve will be rubbished forever and will be recorded in the pages of history for posterity.

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