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National Peace Committee: The real election heroes

National Peace Committee: The real election heroes

Politics in Nigeria has been all about do or die affairs, that usually comes to head during electioneering. It is always reeks of violence, distruption and destabilisation. Wild wild west was in our distant memory, where there was eruption of violence, the maiming, killing and burning of properties in the old western region due to the failure of political gladiators to resolve any perceived political difference during and after elections. Those who lived through the moment are still having PTSD of the effect, and they attested to humongous level of distruption.

Not even too long ago in 2007, a serving President of Nigeria even declared that the election of that year was going to be a do or die affair. True to his words, the election of that year was everything but free and fair. There was massive rigging, which they did through killing and maiming of a perceived opponents. Fast forward to 2011, there was avalanche of violence as aftermath of the election in the northern section of the country, when the then runner up and now incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari lost the election to Goodluck Jonathan. Many live was lost to the violence. In 2015, to break the cycle, The National Peace Committee (NPC), came into prominence.

In the build up to 2015 general elections, when the ominous signs swung on the nation like swinging pendulum on what the outcome of the elections would be, especially the outcome of the presidential seat. The aforementioned committee, chaired by former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, is made up of very prominent Nigerians that includes top clerics across all faiths in Nigeria was able to douse the tension prior to the elections by committing the contending parties to a sign peace accord that parties should shun violence and self help if the election outcome did not go their way. It appealed to the contending forces to seek redress through constitutional and peaceful means of ventilating any grievances arising from the conduct of the elections.

The committee, though not backed by any known laws of the land followed through to its self assigned mandate by getting the then incumbent President to put a call across to its main rival, the current President, congratulating him on his success at the polls even at a time when the result had not been officially declared by the electoral umpire – Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). With that singular move, violence was averted. Both the nation and international community heaved a huge sigh of relief. Consequently, the Committee had since etched itself on national consciousness and the psyche of Nigerians as the moral compass of the nation.

Just before the 2019 general elections, the committee repeated the trick of 2015 elections; the contesting political gladiators were made to sign the peace accord again, the elections was relatively peaceful, except for few states. Instantly the presidential election result was announced and to block any rash reaction from the main contender, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his supporters, the National Peace Committee swung into action and met with him and thereafter with the incumbent President – Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) – and now President elect. Through their intervention, no post election violence was recorded.

With the high level of insecurities in the south east region couple with the bitterness of the participating forces in the Anambra guber election of 2021, it is pertinent that the committee played the role it has now been playing since 2015 to arrest the situation in Anambra. It did not fail the people’s expectations. The committee also urged the participating political parties and their candidates in Saturday’s Anambra State governorship election to accept the outcome of the election provided that it is pronounced credible.

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The committee even take a step further from the previous accord to have also assured the contestants that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had promised a credible election in the state. At the Peace Accord signing ceremony held at the Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, they urged gubernatorial hopefuls to abide by the letter and spirit of the peace pact, which they had agreed to. He told the candidates that the peace accord was a clarion call to them to commit to a peaceful election, adding that the pact became important following the history of electoral violence in the country. 

In all honesty, I do not think anyone can envy the job that the committee is undertaking for itself; a thankless job, if not properly handled can snowball into a backlash. But considering the status of men driving it, one cannot but expect good from it. In a season where many, if not all, of the so called civil rights organizations and activists have suddenly gone both dumb and numb for obvious reason, the committee still stands out as a beacon of hope.

The committee need just to a step further by developing a mechanism to monitor the conduct of the elections with a view to ensuring that the elections are free, fair, transparent and credible and thus nip in the bud any potential violence. 

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