For Democracy, Good Governance And Accountability
RECENT developments back home in Nigeria are not only worrisome but also very embarrassing. I am talking about recent political developments viz-a-viz the ongoing probe of monumental sleaze in the system and the controversy over the recent comments made by the cerebral Bishop Hassan Kukah of the National Peace Committee.
Recall that in February, 2015, the National Peace Committee on 2015 Elections was convened by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, the Founder of the Kukah Centre for Faith and Leadership Research, who is also the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese. This timely intervention was borne out of the need to prevent a reoccurrence of the post-election violence and disharmony that greeted the 2011 electoral activities. A Peace Accord was later signed by all the contenders in the Presidential Election.
As part of the processes that led to the signing of the Abuja Peace Accord, the National Peace Committee was primed to ensure strict and full compliance by the then sitting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his main challenger, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on the outcome of the Presidential Election.
The National Peace Committee has, as its Chairman, a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), who midwifed the ongoing civilian dispensation. Other members of the Committee are the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar; Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd); John Cardinal Onaiyekan; Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria; Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the mega businessman and Africa’s richest man.
Others are Alhaji Muhammad Musdafa; Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor; Professor Ibrahim Gambari; Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the 2014 National Conference; Justice Rose Ukeje; Professor Zainab Alkali; Professor Ameze Guobadia; Mr Sam Amuka-Pemu, the Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers; Dame Priscilla Kuye, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and the Convener himself, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
For record purposes and in view of current posturing and misconceptions being bandied about in the market place of ideas, General Abubakar, the Chairman of the National Peace Committee, succinctly outlined the primary assignment and raison d’être of the Committee in the calculus of the 2015 elections.
He said inter alia:” Any Nigerian, who loves this country, must preach peace. There is apprehension and there is no need for that, Nigerians, please, I beg you, learn from the former mistakes. We must ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. We must ensure that the February elections are peaceful and secure.
“When I was approached to chair this Committee, I did not hesitate. Since I left office, I have been involved in a lot of engagements in Nigeria and across Africa. If you go to many African countries, you will see the kind of carnage going on as a result of post-election violence. We must live in peace. Whenever there is election violence, people blame politicians.
“But the people are the ones inflicting violence on themselves. If we destroy property and other things, we will still have to come back and rebuild what we have destroyed.
“I am very happy that the contestants in the forthcoming Presidential elections have signed and I expect that they will follow up in keeping up with this agreement.We all have roles to play. The media have a role to play in ensuring that they preach peace. People tend to believe in what they read. Avoid sensational stories and help preach peace to our people.”
It is glaring from the foregoing that the abiding aim of the National Peace Committee is the building of structures for enduring peace in Nigeria, using the 2015 elections as a veritable launch-pad. Also, it could be seen that the composition of the National Peace Committee represents a phalanx of conscientious, principled and honourable men and women, people that cannot be dabbed with a tar brush of dubious connotations such as, being swayed by pecuniary considerations or, as one mainstream newspaper puts it, “sanctimonius arrogance”.
This group of eminent Nigerians have saddled themselves with finding a lasting solution to the endemic occurrence of electoral violence that has defined the Nigerian democratic experience since independence in 1960. That they performed this assignment to the marvel of Nigerians and the international community is best assessed by the relative calm and unprecedented bonhomie that defied the numerous dooms-day predictions and forecasts involving the major ethnic, religious and political divides.
Dr. Ademola Odeleye wrote in from San Antonio, Texas, United States of America.