PDP, Kukah laud non-violence pact, Falana, Okogie fault action

KUKAH• ‘What Nigerians want to hear from Jonathan, Buhari’

• Yoruba elders dismiss fear over 2015 polls 

THE non-violence agreement signed by the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has elicited commendation from some quarters, just as it attracted criticism from others.

  Meanwhile, the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has urged those predicting collapse of Nigeria after the 2015 elections to, as a matter of urgency, go on their knees

and pray for forgiveness as God has taken over the reign of governance of the nation and shall enthrone a government which will have the best interest of the people as its prime concern.

  In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, Thursday, the party said it has already in the last one week of campaigns, demonstrated its resolve for peaceful polls by ensuring that its members adhere strictly to its code of conduct on violence-free polls.

 “It is timely therefore to urge the leadership of the APC to move beyond signing of the peace pact to genuinely taking practical steps to rein in members, especially, the horde of brigand thugs already on the loose in parts of the country, or be held responsible for any failure.”

  According to the PDP, “with the completion of the APC’s campaign rallies in the South East and South South without slightest incidence of harassment or violence, the PDP has emphatically demonstrated its unflinching resolve for peaceful  campaigns as well as ideological stricture  to plurality of  opinions and electoral choice even in areas considered its most impregnable fortes.  “We hence advise the APC to take a cue and urgently forestall plans by miscreants acting in its name to disrupt PDP campaign rallies in some parts of the North. APC must withdraw its violent prone membership from the red line,” the statement concluded.

  Also, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev Hassan Kukah described as commendable and innovative the non-violence accord signed by the Presidential candidates, noting that it is a positive signal and a lesson to those who may want to kill themselves on their behalf.

  Speaking at the Agenda setting Roundtable for the 2015 General elections with the theme “Making Nigeria Work: Setting the agenda for a New Nation” organised by the Kukah Centre for Faith and Leadership Research in Abuja, the cleric observed that by signing the peace pact, the candidates have not only committed themselves to free and fair elections but to also accepting the results of the elections.

 His words: “It is a wonderful development, very commendable and quite innovative. The challenge now is that if the sitting president and his number one opponent can warmly embrace, that sends a positive signal to Nigerians that nobody should be stupid enough to cry more than the bereaved because they have shown us they want peace. Those who want to kill themselves on their behalf should have a lesson to learn.”

  The Bishop while assessing President Goodluck Jonathan and his major challenger, General Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign so far, said that even though they have been able to dwell on major problems affecting the country, the two candidates 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.

  Speaking on National Security, Capt. Umar Aliyu Babangida (rtd) said that what we see today as insurgency, kidnapping, assassination are ailing situations of our national security. He pointed out that Nigerians need to have the feeling of being nationally secure, stressing that the presence of soldiers is just a little part of the security value chain.

 “People would feel nationally secure when the fundamentals of national security such as food security, economic security, energy security, health security and job security are in place,  but without the optimal performance of these fundamentals, what the military is fighting are shortfalls from the fundamentals of the national security and the high level of unemployment in the country is a breeding ground for insurgency,” Babangida said.

  Babangida, who challenged the presidential candidates to tell Nigerians what they intend to do to ensure national security, said: “We should be asking our leaders how they intend to implement their policies and the time line within which to accomplish them. The Boko Haram is working in the country because there is no resistance. That Boko Haram is placed second deadliest terrorist organisation in the world is an indictment on our armed forces, there is need for improvement. We need to build the confidence level of our public office holders so that they don’t run from issues affecting the country.”

  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 waste of time.

  Falana and Okogie, who spoke yesterday 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 Wednesday 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 don 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 sympathise with the parents of the Chibok girls. Out of all these politicians, I don’t see anyone of them worthy to lead the country. 

  The clergy said he saw bloodshed during the 2015 elections, noting that the non-violence pact signed by President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a mirage and will not work.

 “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.

  President of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd),  while addressing the media on the state of the nation yesterday,  urged those whom he referred to as prophets of doom, who are threatening the collapse of the country, to hold their peace.

  Stating the position of the organisation on the 2015 elections, Adebayo said: “YCE has been watching the various developments in the nation’s march to the 2015 election and enunciate as follows:

 •That all Yoruba, regardless of their individual political party affiliation, should make all efforts to get registered to vote and should also collect the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC);

  •That all Yoruba should seriously consider the manifestos issued by various political organisations and their candidates and choose and vote for those parties, which best enunciate the interest and advancement of Yoruba nation and Nigeria as the centrepiece of their government;

  •Appealed to all political parties coming to solicit Yoruba votes to desist from inflammatory actions, speeches, rallies and others, which may set the Yoruba nation into conflagration.

  YCE also expressed dismay at the acrimonies, litigations and huge waste of resources which always characterize all elections in the country, even when such elections have been adjudged free and fair.

  On the state of the economy, Adebayo called on the Federal Government to ensure more diversification of the economy into several fronts like agriculture and mineral deposits, which remain untapped such as gold, bitumen, tin, and others to reduce the burden of the economy on petroleum.

  To address the ravaging national insecurity in the country, Adebayo proposed immediate implementation of the Yoruba delegates agenda at the recently concluded national conference wherein the South West Zone demanded the establishment of state police and entrenchment of true federalism where the federating states will be in full control of their resources and be in charge of their security within their borders.

  Adebayo however appealed to the Federal government and the Military authorities to spare the lives of the 54 convicted soldiers for mutiny in the insurgency war the country is currently faced with.

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