The National Peace Committee (NPC) has expressed concern over violent election campaigns across the country ahead of the 2023 elections.
The committee stated this in a statement on Monday jointly signed by its co-chairmen, General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), and Bishop Mathew Kukah.
The committee urged all the presidential candidates to abide by the peace accord they signed and caution their spokesmen and representatives against inciting utterances.
According to the committee, they have watched with utter dismay the deterioration in the communication of fundamental issues among politicians since the campaigns started on September 28, 2022.
The committee warned that aggressive and abusive language would only diminish the integrity of the individuals, their candidates and their parties, just as it asked Nigerians to be ready to punish instigators of violence by isolating them or their candidates.
The statement said: “A day after the ban was lifted and in response to a call by the NPC, the Presidential Candidates and their running mates met and participated in the signing of the Peace Accord at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. Since its successful outing preceding the 2015 Presidential Elections, the signing of the Peace Accord has become embedded in our electioneering campaigns. Over the years, the event has elevated the level of trust and confidence among ordinary Nigerians in the Democratic process. Some have even called for the institutionalisation of the process into our democratic process due to its moral significance.
“The NPC has continued to maintain its partnership with the INEC to deliver peaceful elections in our country. The international community has taken a very keen interest in the development and progress of our country on the path of Democracy.
”For this reason, the NPC has continued to work with and receive high-level delegations from Europe and the United States of America interested in our elections. Their passion, concerns and commitment to our Democracy are genuine and we find this very encouraging. We should therefore know that the world is watching us.”
“The peace commission however acknowledged that President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly have shown their commitment to ensuring the successful conduct of the 2023 elections, noting that it is also encouraged by the progress and innovation made by INEC.
“All Nigerians can testify to this development by the successes recorded in the peaceful conduct of the off-cycle elections in Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states. We are not where we want to be yet, but we are right to assume that we can do more.”
The peace committee said Nigerians are genuinely concerned, troubled and disappointed by the conduct and attitude of some of the politicians in the last few weeks.
According to the committee, the political actors have not learnt any lessons from the past events in the country, adding that all candidates must respect the peace accord.
They also commended the security agencies for continuing to do their best in monitoring security developments across the country, even as they urged them to ensure that the right environment is created for peaceful elections.
The statement added: “Nigerians have been fed a menu of intemperate language, intimidation and outright violence in the field of the campaigns. It is evident that some of our actors have not learnt any lessons from the past. There is an increasing tone of desperation, if not incitement, among some of the contestants and members of their parties.
“Intra and inter-party wranglings still persist, with occasions of violence. In desperation, some selfish political actors use these strategies to pursue their frivolous ambitions in the courts.
“When all the presidential candidates and the party chairmen signed the peace accord, they were committed to infusing a sense of decency, civility and nobility in the political process. The political actors cannot pretend to be oblivious of the content of the Peace Accord that they signed. Nigerians expect that as men and women of honour, they were committed to keeping their word.”