By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called on all the presidential candidates, political party leaders, to respect the voice of Nigerians in the forthcoming elections.
Jonathan stated this at the signing of 3rd peace accord for all political parties leaders and their presidential candidates, organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Jonathan, represented by Bishop Matthew Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, said this was the time for the candidates and party leaders to demonstrate goodwill.
“Our country needs a stable and reliable democracy to be able to adequately address its challenges and provide the desired leadership that meets the expectations of our teeming populace.
“The world looks up to us to get our democracy right and become a force to be reckoned with in the leadership recruitment and governance process.
“ We need peaceful elections to give democracy a boost on the continent, especially in our sub-region where civil rule is threatened by a wave of unconstitutional change of government.
“I therefore call on all the presidential candidates, the party chairmen and members of all the political parties, to please respect the voice of Nigerians and embrace the politics of peace.”
The former president said the peace accord committed all the presidential candidates, chairmen and members of the political parties to accept the outcome of the elections, as long as it is adjudged to be free, fair and credible.
He recalled that in the build up to the 2015 general elections, himself and President Muhammadu Buhari, signed a similar accord, committing themselves to free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
“We also made it very clear in the second Peace Accord that we would abide by the outcome of the votes.
“ I believed that was the way to strengthen our democracy, stave off looming violence and bring peace to our nation.
“ There is no better time to make this commitment than now, given the considerable levels of tension and apprehension so far experienced, in the build-up to the elections.”
Jonathan urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do its best to ensure that the elections were free, fair and credible.
He said that whenever doubts build up in the minds of the citizens pertaining to the credibility of elections, it creates a situation that could lead to crises and conflicts.
“In the same vein, I urge the Police and other security agencies involved in managing security during the polls not to compromise themselves in the course of carrying out their duties, now, during and after elections.
“When the people have confidence in the election umpire and the police operatives that secure the polling processes, elections will largely be peaceful and credible.”
Jonathan appreciated members of the NPC led by Former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, for their commitment to peaceful elections in the country.
He also commended the committee for the deployment of moral suasion in their engagements with political parties to douse public tension.
“This is also aimed at mitigating the exponential growth of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation in the social media space.
“No doubt, this strategy has proven to consolidate the effort of statutory structures like INEC in conducting peaceful and credible elections.”