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Gen Buhari and Dr Jonathan during the peace agreement in Abuja

Gen Buhari and Dr Jonathan during the peace agreement in Abuja

The signing of the peace agreement in Abuja on Wednesday January 14, 2015 by President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), together with the presidential candidates of the other political parties for the February 2015 general elections is a welcome development. The presidential candidates had signed the pact during an election sensitization workshop organized by the Office of the National Security Adviser to the President and the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs in collaboration with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), United Nations Development Programme-Democratic Governance for Development (UNDRDGD) and International Republican Institute (IRI) with the theme: “Non-violent 2015 Elections and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria”.

 

          The Abuja peace agreement, aka The Abuja Accord, is similar to the Aburi Accord signed between the delegates of the Nigerian federal government and delegates of the then opposing Eastern Nigeria (Biafrans) at Aburi, Ghana, between January 4 and 5, 1967. Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, the then Nigerian Head of State, signed for Nigeria while Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, then Governor of Eastern Nigeria, signed on behalf of the Biafrans. There were political tensions in parts of the country basically owing to alleged marginalization by the federal government.

 

          The Aburi Accord was signed to avert an imminent civil war. Unfortunately, the Accord broke down later because both sides could not keep to the terms of the agreement; they eventually gave different interpretations to it. As the falcon could not hear the falconer, things fell apart and the centre could not hold. The bubble burst and the civil war was poured out between 1967 and 1970. Sadly, the aftermath of the war has not fully subsided in the country. Now that another accord, the Abuja Accord, has been signed, all the parties to the agreement need to remind themselves of the Aburi Accord and the need to avoid the repeat of history. They should let any sleeping dog lie and simply abide by the terms of the agreement this time around.

 

          Indeed, the Abuja Accord is a pledge by all political parties and their candidates that they and their supporters would maintain the peace and unity of the country before, during and after the elections no matter the side to which the pendulum of the election results swing; they have promised Nigerians to play the election games according to the rules as enshrined in the country’s constitution before which every citizen is equal. They have told the whole world that as the elections come and go, neither of them nor their supporters would forment trouble at the outcome of the results no matter whose ox is gored.

          For such a time as this when the country is grabbling with security issues amidst an atmosphere that is politically tensed up and macabre, the Abuja Accord is quite apt as it could send positive signals of hope and assurance to the electorate. For such a time as this when the citizenry is virtually uncertain as to the fate of the country after the elections following predictions from some quarters that Nigeria might break up because of disagreements that may arise from the 2015 elections, the Abuja agreement is a light in the tunnel. No doubt, the uncertainty have been aggravated by reports in some parts of the country of undue attacks on political parties by unknown gunmen and thugs, bombing party buildings and burning campaign vehicles and signposts. Even the war of words that was staged of late among the parties, especially between the APC and the PDP did not help matters. Hence, when the Abuja Accord was born in Abuja, many Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief. We therefore commend the organisers of the workshop from where the accord emanated.

 

          The Abuja Accord must not be toy with; it should not be another Aburi Accord. The rising hope of Nigerians must not be dashed. The accord, by implication, has also buried all forms of political violence; the syndrome of winner-takes-it-all, too. And as the elections come and go, stakeholders must exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship wherein winners and losers still see themselves as friends and partners in progress in the task of building the a nation.

 

          The Abuja Accord is timely, sacred and sacrosanct. It is a guidepost and an edge. “He that breaks the edge, the serpent shall bite”, so says the holy scriptures. Surely, Nigerians and indeed posterity will hold responsible any of the parties that fails to stand by the lines of the accord. Yes, on the Abuja Accord we stand.