Eminent Nigerians, including former head of state, Gen. Abubakar Abdusalami, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, former Chief of General Staff (CGS), Ebitu Ukiwe, and Prelate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Nicholas Okoh, have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to revisit the reports all past national conferences with a view to resolving the country’s problems.
They met in Abuja on Tuesday under the aegis of the National Peace Committee.
The leaders advised the government to consult on the possibility of examining the reports of the Political Reforms Conference of 2005 and other national conferences as bases for further and continuing dialogue on peaceful co-existence among communities in Nigeria.
In a report the committee released after the meeting, they said that ‘’the peaceful outcome of the 2015 general elections underscores what is possible in this great country if we can all work towards building a just and democratic society for all citizens. As 2019 beckons, let us all recommit ourselves to the ideals of justice, peace and national unity.”
The committee comprises elder statesmen and women, traditional and religious leaders from across the country. It was set up in January 2015 to monitor adherence to the Peace Accord signed by all presidential candidates and political parties which contested the 2015 elections.
The report titled: “2015 General Elections: The Untold Story”, said that the work of the committee helped to turn what was expected to be Nigeria’s most violent election into the most remarkable signpost in Nigeria’s electoral history
It continued: “For the first time, an incumbent President conceded defeat to his opponent even before the final results were announced. Given what has been the culture of sit-tight leadership in Africa where leaders have often preferred to sacrifice the lives of their people on the altars of their ambitions, and given even Nigeria’s experience with its own leaders seeking to manipulate their ways into power, the outcome of the 2015 presidential election cycle was indeed worth celebrating.”
The committee attributed rising divisions in the country to the failure of leaders to deliver on their mandates.
‘’Politicians who have failed in delivering on the mandate of the electorate for better livelihoods and neighbourhoods have, instead, found common cause with advocates of division and hate. In many parts of the country, young people who have been left without means of livelihood or hope in their future have become converts to radicalization preached by demagogues in various guises including ethnicity and religion.”
The leaders also called on state governments to commit to developing their people and relying less on Abuja to fund their consumption through monthly allocations.
They charged the Federal Government to “review, update and enforce all laws relating to citizenship in Nigeria to ensure the equality of all under the law.”
Also yesterday, Abdulsalami, Kukah, Ukiwe and Okoh visited the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to discuss ways to adopt, to make the 2019 presidential election credible.
Abdulsalami, who chairs committee, urged politicians to shun violence and whatever could mar the forthcoming elections.
He said: “We are all aware that we are approaching the 2019 elections and already you are very much aware how the polity is being heated as a result of which we have decided to step up our action in ensuring that there is peace in the country and the politicians play by the rule of the game and also the security agencies and the INEC play their role accordingly.
“This morning we have interacted with the INEC chairman and his members of staff and also the security agencies here who have got one role or the other to perform in this election.
“All in all, we have had a briefing and later this afternoon (yesterday) we are going to meet the political parties and the chairmen of the 91 registered political parties in furtherance of ensuring that peace continues. We are going to listen to them, hear their complaints and also appeal to them to make sure that politics is played without bitterness,” he said.