WHEN it was recently reported that ahead of February’s general elections in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his major challenger of All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has signed an accord with a commitment to keep the peace during and after the polls starting on February 14, this year, we could not help but wonder what will the said piece of paper-signed do in ensuring peaceful polls when the principle parties concerned have not really exhibited traits to back up their actions.
We believe the non-violence agreement signed by President Jonathan, Buhari and others will only become effective “if and only if” the political leaders concerned genuinely direct their followers to refrain from ‘rigging the elections’ in their favour. This also includes not using the Electoral authorities and Security Operatives to manipulate election results in their favour. Without a doubt, it is the manipulation of election results through any means necessary that creates the propensity for violence; be it during or after elections. In fact, both the Presidential candidates of the PDP and APC, including others, should have signed agreement of “NON-ELECTORAL RIGGING AND THUGGERY” instead of the so called non-violence pact signed. There can only be “sustainable peace” in the absence of electoral rigging, thuggery and manipulation of election results.
So no matter how many so called ‘peace deal’ or ‘non-violence’ pact that may have been signed by the Nigerian Politicians concerned; if the electorates votes does not count, and if the elections are seen not to be free, fair and transparent, then we should be rest assured that political violence is inevitable. We also believe the Judiciary should be part of such signed agreement between stakeholders concerned because people often take laws into their hands to cause violence when they cannot get true justice on election matters through the Election Tribunals for instance. In order words, the Nigerian Judiciary should also be involved in this.
However, there is no point for us to deceive ourselves with some of these ‘public display of supposed sincerity’ when in actual fact, the real intentions of what our Nigerian politicians want to do to win elections; is different from what they say and do. It is ONLY THE TRUTH that can make us free and assure us of having sustainable peace; during and after the elections. But as far as we are concerned, the said non-violence pact that was signed is done without sincerity of purpose due to a whole lot of reasons.
The said non-violence pact meeting was chaired by the former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and apart from the PDP and APC Presidential candiadates, nine other Presidential candidates of other registered parties also appended their signatures to a Five-Points Accord which enumerated a lot of things as proactive measures to be taken by the parties/candidates concerned to prevent electoral violence before, during and after the elections. But as expected, the said non-violence pact has elicited commendation from some quarters, just as it attracted criticism from others. While the PDP and APC came out to reiterate their resolve to ensure a peaceful polls, other stakeholders like us, are not fully convinced by this; especially when we look at their actions, inciting/provocative statements, character assassinations and propensity to exhibit violence at any slightest provocation, during their various political campaigns across the country.
While persons like the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Hassan Kukah described as commendable and innovative the non-violence accord signed by the Presidential candidates, however, the Bishop said that even though they have been able to dwell on major problems affecting the country, the two candidates (referring to Buhari and Jonathan) have not been telling Nigerians how they intend to fix them. “If you have the chance to be in office, do the best you can because you may not have the chance again,” he said. But a legal luminary and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie described the non-violence pact signed in Abuja by the presidential candidates of various political parties as a complete waste of time.
Falana and Okogie, who spoke recently at the public presentation of a book titled “Stand up for what is right” at the 11th edition of the annual lecture organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja branch, in honour of the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), described the signed pact in Abuja as a waste of time “as none of those who signed the peace accord could be made to account for any uprisings that may happen after the elections. The country should be concerned about ensuring that electoral offenders and those against the progress of Nigeria are prosecuted rather than signing an accord that will never work.”
The Chairman of the occasion, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, admonished Nigerians to exhibit extra urgency in rescuing the country. He said truth is now a scarce commodity in Nigeria, expressing regret that politics of religion and ethnicity now thrives in the country. “It is instructive to categorically state that truth, a scarce feature in Nigeria polity and public life as a whole, must be the indispensable currency of exchange by everyone. I urge you not to be afraid of truth for truth is eternal and simple. In long run, only truth can set you free, only truth will save this nation.” Okogie further said politicians should show interest in the welfare of the people rather than their personal interests. “The president should ensure there is security in the country. It is very sad the way things are going on in the country with politicians engaging in campaign of bitterness. How can politicians campaigns on personal past issues? I do not think it is fair. Politicians should campaign on issues not attacking personality. It incites people to anger and warfare. In England and other places, they don’t do that. That is the way it should be. They should show people they are for them and stop looting. How many of these candidates and politicians had gone to sympathize with the parents of the Chibok girls. Out of all these politicians, I do not see anyone of them worthy to lead the country.
“In 2015, God forbid, I think there is going to be bloodshed. How we are going to stop it is the problem. It is by showing a hand of friendship to the people but unfortunately politicians are not doing it. They are giving money to hoodlums and printing posters. Even Lagos that is called Centre of Excellence, people are hungry. Foreign countries are laughing at us yet politicians want us to vote for them. The peace pact signed by President Jonathan and Buhari will not work. They think we are fools and can deceive us.” Okogie advised that politicians emulate the late Fawehinmi.
Like we said before, it is only when elections are ‘generally seen’ as free, fair and transparent that sustainable peace will reign during and after elections. Here we are as a nation looking at the signing a piece of paper to ensure a peaceful election, whereas no one is talking about “what penalty would Presidential candidates face who are seen to have promoted and sponsored thuggery and rigging of election results?” We cannot be talking about ‘peace assurance’ during and after polls when the practices of rigging and political thuggery are seen to be taking place ‘unrestrained.’ It is election rigging/irregularities and political thuggery that promote politically-induced violence and crises. As it is with the Presidential elections, so also is it with other elections at the various State levels. It is a known fact that election rigging through snatching of ballot boxes, stuffing ballot boxes with fake ballot papers, manipulations of election results or substituting original election result sheets with fake ones and other electoral maneuvers to win elections at all cost; are the indices that breeds political violence be it before, during and after elections.
We are also here as a nation looking at only the Presidential elections at the Federal level whereas nobody is talking about elections at the various State Government levels. How does INEC and those who initiated the so called non-violence pact intend to extend the same measures they are projecting to the State Government elections? How will the various States Independent Electoral Commissions and also the Security Operatives, guarantee Nigerians that Governorship candidates and others vying for various public posts, will act appropriately in ensuring a free, fair, transparent and non-violent polls? What guarantees do we have as a people that the so called non-violence pact will be adhered by the parties concerned? And what penalties are there for those who are found to have violated the said pact?
We believe stakeholders should be more concerned about what causes electoral violence in the first place, instead of signing any pact for ‘good behavour’ during and after elections. Why do we have election violence in the first place? The answer is simply because elections are often replete with irregularities and fraudulent practices by the parties concerned and their supporters. That is the issue that has characterized the “Do-Or-Die” kind of politicking we see in Nigeria. Come to think of it, why are they ‘expecting’ violence to have signed the said agreement? By signing the said non-violence pact, are the principle political players indirectly telling Nigerians that the possibility of election violence is very high, and therefore we should be afraid? With rumours and reports that most of our political leaders and society elites are already relocating their families and loved ones to foreign countries, we sincerely fear the worse. What then is the hope of the common man?
We can see that regardless of whatever piece of paper that was signed, and regardless of any statements made by the parties concerned to reiterate their resolve to peaceful polls, the ONLY THING that will guarantee Nigerians that they mean business; is when it is clearly evident and generally acceptable to all that conducted elections were free, fair and transparent. If

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