By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Ahead of the 2015 general elections, stakeholders want politicians to abide by the code of code of political behaviour by avoiding the use of inflammatory and provocative language.
They say if not checked, unguarded and inciting utterances could threaten the peace of the country.
They say that all Nigerians must nurture, defend and protect the nation’s growing democracy by eschewing bitterness, rancour and other divisive tendencies.
Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, Senior Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, who spoke at a recent public function, stressed the need for politicians to guard their utterances.
He said that President Jonathan had demonstrated an uncommon commitment to free and fair elections.
According to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has always provided a level playing ground for all parties as shown in the elections conducted so far.
“Since the President has committed himself to providing a level-playing field, it is our own duty also to follow suit.
“On several occasions, Mr President, during the 2011 election and subsequently at every opportunity he had to speak, has said two things on two different levels.
“One, he has said that as far as he was concerned, any of his ambition is not worth the blood of any citizen in this country and when Mr President speaks, I believe he speaks from his heart.’’
Alkali said that the mantra used in the previous election had been, as the President had called it himself, “one man one vote, one woman one vote, one youth one vote.’’
He stressed that the issues of violence should not be part of the nation’s democratic culture at all.
“So we are calling on all Nigerians to be very mindful that as we are setting our attention now towards the general elections, people should be very careful they are not used by desperate politicians.”
President Jonathan, who addressed participants at the recent All Political Parties Summit in Abuja, alerted Nigerians on the activities of destructive elements that were bent on derailing the 2015 polls.
“I agree totally with the Chairman of INEC that we have to be mindful and listen very well so that we can save our necks.
“There are still very remorseless anti- democratic forces operating in the political system, ever ready to exploit lapses in the management of our political and electoral processes.
“ Some of these forces, may indeed during the forthcoming elections as their lifestyle, truncate the nation’s hard won democratic liberty.
“But dear compatriots, with respect to the 2015 elections in particular and our journey as a nation in general, we must never allow these negative forces to prevail,” he said.
Jonathan, who made reference to Article 7 of the Code of Conduct for Political Behaviour, reminded politicians of what was expected of them.
“No political Party or candidate shall during campaign, resort to the use of inflammatory language, provocative actions, images or manifestation that incite violence, hatred, contempt or intimidation against another party or candidate, or any person or group of persons on grounds of ethnicity, gender or for any other reason.
“However, dear compatriots, the current national political outlook with regards to inter-party collaboration is less than salutary. Indeed, the conduct and utterances of leading politicians at home and abroad are rapidly creating and spreading unnecessary tension in the country.
“Such unguarded utterances on their part fan the embers of discord, bitterness and rancour.
“Such unfortunate development plays into the hands of extremist elements waging a vicious campaign of terror against the state,’’ Jonathan noted.
In the same vein, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, implored public office holders to demonstrate their commitment toward improving the living standard of the electorate, instead of engaging in unguarded utterances.
Martins said that the utterances of many politicians were not geared towards achieving good governance, but rather to overheat the polity.
“I think the heat that is there in the polity is affecting the quality of governance at this time.
“Those who are in charge at different levels should not just be thinking about 2015 general elections, but should think about the present day Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Think of how life is going to be made bearable, rather than creating the sort of tension that we are feeling at this point in time.”
The clergyman decried the undue attention being paid to the 2015 general elections, noting that political leaders were losing focus on the needs of the majority of Nigerians.
Sharing similar sentiments, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, who recently received Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers in his palace, advised politicians to engage in responsible politics.
He said that the utterances by some politicians in the country were inimical to the peace and unity of the country, adding that Nigeria commanded global respect because of her size, population and unity.
“We must be watchful of what we say; we must have responsible politics by 2015 and beyond for the common good of this country.
“We recognise that people can exercise their right of expression; but we must watch what they say if we want this country to remain peaceful,” the monarch noted.
On its part, Voters Awareness Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, said the unity and stability of the country should be the concern of all Nigerians, ahead of the 2015 general elections.
President of the group, Mr Wale Ogunade, said some of the statements credited to highly respected persons were not in the best interest of the nation.
He said it was wrong for any particular ethnic or religious group to lay ‘claim’ to the person of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Jonathan belongs to all Nigerians; he is the making of all Nigerians,” Ogunade stressed.
In spite of the “ prophesies of prophets of doom,’’ Jonathan said that the 2015 general elections would be hitch-free.
Jonathan, who spoke recently in Abuja at an interfaith conference, organised by the Interfaith Initiative for Peace, said that the country would be stronger and more united after the elections.
“I once again assure Nigerians and the international community that the 2015 elections will come and go, and Nigeria will stand stronger.
“The Nigerians I know and interact with everyday are only asking for one thing in the elections; transparency, free and fair elections, and I have promised them that.
“They want to vote and they want their votes to count; they don’t want to be molested, they don’t want ballot boxes to be hijacked by criminals.
“If they are convinced that the process is free, fair and credible they have no reason to be angry; nobody can fight against one man, one vote, one woman one vote, one youth one vote.
“And government will make sure that Nigerians are not killed during and after the elections.’’
On his part, Chief Odigie Oyegun, National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), advised politicians to shun utterances that could disrupt peaceful co-existence among the different ethnic nationalities in the country.
He said that out of desperation to capture or retain power; some politicians are making inflammatory statements that could have long-term negative implication on the unity and progress of the country.
He urged politicians to stop playing the blame game considering the high level of insecurity in the country.
The APC chairman called on politicians, irrespective of their political affiliations to unite against the common enemy of Nigeria, stressing that it required the collective efforts of all to fight terrorism.
“Nigerians should unite to face this reality; it is a pan-Nigeria problem; and therefore, all hands must be on deck to fight insurgency in Nigeria,” Oyegun said.
Stakeholders want all hands to be on deck to ensure peaceful, fair and credible elections in 2015 as the corporate existence of Nigeria supersedes the interest of any politician.(NANFeatures)[eap_ad_3]
By Chijioke Okoronkwo