The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Atiku Abubakar and his in Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili on Wednesday signed the peace accord ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The two candidates were notable absentees when on Tuesday when President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some other part flag bearers signed the peace pact pledging to ensure violent-free polls next year.
Beside the duo, Mr. Donald Duke of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressives Party (YPP), and Omoyele Sowore of Action Alliance boycotted the event held at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.
Atiku and Ezekwesili in separate visits signed the Peace Accord at the office of the National Peace Committee (NPC) in Abuja.
Atiku, while signing said he was committed to a free, fair and credible election while Ezekwesili urged Buhari to sign the electoral act amendment bill saying that is the only way to assure Nigerians that he is ready for free and fair elections in 2019.
Atiku who applauded the president for signing the peace agreement also urged him to sign the electoral act amendment bill into law to demonstrate his willingness to ensure free and fair elections
The agreement, which is organised by the National Peace Committee, led by Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former head of state, is aimed at ensuring a peaceful and violence-free poll in 2019.
The event, tagged ‘Abuja Accord 2018’ was convened by the National Peace Committee under the chairmanship of the former head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar
Prominent personalities at the Tuesday event were United Nations secretary-general special representative in West Africa and the Sahel, Mr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
Others were the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, former chief justice of the federation, Mohammed Lawal Uwais, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, head of the delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen and the chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
The PDP had attributed Atiku’s absence to “communication lapse” between the National Peace Committee (NPC) and the party’s national secretariat.
“The party regrets that it was not represented at the signing of the peace accord in Abuja on Tuesday, due to communication lapse between the National Peace Committee (NPC) and the party’s national secretariat.
“Already, the party is conducting investigations into the circumstances that could have resulted to this unfortunate communication lapse.
“Nevertheless, it is instructive to state that our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the party are fully committed to a peaceful electoral process and elections in 2019.
“Our presidential candidate is known worldwide as a global ambassador of peace, who will always support processes that will engender peace in our country and the world over.
“In the same vein, our party is also known for peaceful conduct in all activities, electoral processes and all elections conducted at all levels in our country, since its inception in 1998,” said the party’s spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan in a statement.
But the NPC chairman had argued saying he was not aware of any “communication breakdown” insisting that everybody was dully invited.
“You have seen the number of parties that have been invited…The National Peace Committee, everybody was invited. What reasons do we have not to invite somebody? This accord was for all political parties to sign to be of goodwill and good behaviour during elections. If there is a breakdown of communication somewhere I don’t know.
“What surprises me is that when we had the conference with the political parties…the parties agreed and it was the recommendation that the peace committee has taken,” said Abubakar in an interview.