Atiku absent as presidential candidates sign peace accord for 2019 polls

Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was conspicuously absent at the signing of a peace accord for the 2019 elections.

The accord was organised by the National Peace Committee which said invitation was sent to all 73 presidential candidates contesting the 2019 elections.

Aside Atiku, Donald Duke of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressives Party (YPP), Oby Ezekwesili of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Omoyele Sowore of Action Alliance, were also absent.

Abdulsalami Abubakar,  former head of state and chairman of the committee, underscored the essence of peace towards ensuring credible polls.

He thanked Buhari for his commitment to ensuring peaceful elections but said security should be a source of worry to everyone.

Abubakar cautioned leaders that their acts of commission or omission could make matters worse, appealing to them to lead by example and temper their utterances and act with responsibility and patriotism.

Adeyeye Ogunwusi, ooni of Ife; Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state; and Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, at the event. The former head of state condemned the subtle incitement coming from some religious houses, saying they do not portend well for the country.

He appealed to all participants to endeavour to stick to the contents of the peace pact they signed, and to INEC to carry out its mandate as expected of it.

He added that mere signing of the document will not achieve anything except all concerns accept to work by the rules.

Yakubu Gowon, also a former head of state, said the peace accord should be seen as a positive development for the country.

Gowon, who spoke on "Trust and Democracy", charged leaders not to betray their role in properly managing the resources of the country.

"The beauty of democracy is that it avails citizens the right to have a say in how they are governed; this right is abridged by the most brutal dictators in the word. Democracy despite persuasion and the use of force," he said.

"Military incursion into our politics has led to misery and underdevelopment of our richly endowed nation and contributed to defective democracy. All hope is not lost for the enthronement of true democracy in the country, which is why we must commend the NPC in sensitising everyone that elections are not "do or die contests".

"We should encourage them to consolidate on the successes of 2015 so that we can have even better polls in 2019. There are better issues of development than pursuing agenda of violence and hate speech. Promotion of ethnic and religious or mutual suspicion will not make us see the best in us, and will defeat the essence of democracy.

"There will be no benefit to allowing the negatives override the positives in us. All those who aspire to lead the people should be acceptable and be seen to be acceptable to the people. That has worked and continues to work in good societies.

"I commend the political a parties and candidates here for showing commitment and putting the nation above political differences. Nigeria must win, and the nation will lose if we set aside the gains of this conference.

"I'm hoping you will honour the pledge of ensuring our elections are free of violence. Your conduct will determine how the game is played and I plead with you to ensure your supporters play by the rules."

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