*Says signing it with Jonathan contributed to peaceful elections in 2015
By BASHIR ADEFAKA
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in apparent display of respect for the National Peace Committee (NPC), recalls how activities of the Committee led to the peaceful transition that brought him to office in 2015.
The President, explaining this, said the signing of the Peace Accord with former President Goodluck Jonathan and other presidential candidates in the build up to the 2015 elections contributed largely to the peaceful outcome of the polls.
This, he said, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, copy of which was sent to The DEFENDER on Thursday.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a video-message to the signing of the 2023 election Peace Accord by the presidential candidates, had earlier expressed his endorsement of the initiative undertaken by the Committee to commit all political actors to issue-based campaigns devoid of incitement, personal insults and attacks.
Receiving the National Peace Committee (NPC), led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, on Thursday at State House after the signing event, the President urged all the signatories to the 2023 election Peace Accord, and their supporters, to abide by its content and spirit.
The President noted that the signing of the First National Peace Accord by presidential candidates in the 2023 election, earlier at a separate event on Thursday, was aimed at committing political parties, aspirants and their supporters to conduct their campaigns in a peaceful manner, devoid of ethnic, religious and hate speeches that could mar the upcoming elections.
“The timing of the First National Peace Accord is significant considering political party campaigns have already commenced in the country.
“The initiatives undertaken by the NPC are commendable as these efforts would ensure issue-based campaigns.
“I look forward to the second phase of the signing of the National Peace Accord coming up in January 2023.
“You may recall that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and I signed the first National Peace Accord before the 2015 elections.
“It is my conviction that it contributed significantly to the peaceful outcome of the 2015 election.
“It is my hope that the National Peace Committee continues this important work post 2023,” the President said.
President Buhari reiterated that credible, free and fair elections can only be achieved in a peaceful environment, adding that the signing of the Electoral Act 2021 as amended with landmark provisions underline his resolve for transparent and all-inclusive Electoral Process.
He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to conduct themselves in a manner that would ensure the successful conduct of the General Elections in 2023 as well as smooth transition from one democratically elected Government to another.
Gen. Abubakar, who briefed the President on the activities of the Committee in the build-up to the next year’s election, said they have met with various stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Heads of security agencies, who reassured of their preparedness to conduct the polls creditably.
The former Head of State told the President that the membership of the Committee has been expanded to bring in some ‘‘young minds’’, expressing confidence that the Committee would do its utmost to ensure that all political actors live up to expectations.
The NPC Chairman also lauded President Buhari for repeatedly reaffirming his commitment to fairness in the 2023 elections, particularly at international outings.
He noted with delight that the off-season elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States have confirmed President Buhari’s irreversible commitment to credible and violence-free polls in the country.
The members of the National Peace Committee are: Gen. Abubakar, Chairman; Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto; John Cardinal Onaiyekan; Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Prof. Ameze Guobadia; Prince Sam Amuka; Justice Roseline Ukeje (rtd); Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Bishop Mathew Hasan Kukah; Lt. Gen. Mathew Luther Agwai; Mr. Femi Otedola; Alhaji Ahmed Yayale; Ms Idayat Hassan, John Momoh; Sani Suleiman Atsu and Fr. Attah Barkindo, Head of NPC Secretariat.