Former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Koffi Annan, has emphasized the need for peaceful elections in Nigeria, calling for measures to be put in place by the electoral commission to ensure that the elections are of high integrity.
“I am pleased that all parties are participating in this responsible initiative. It will reassure Nigerians and their international partners who are concerned about potential election-related violence and its consequences for the country’s prospects. What happens in Nigeria affects all of Africa”, he said.
The inter-party workshop was chaired by Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and attended by the chairmen of the two main parties, Goodluck Jonathan and Mohammadu Buhari, and other candidates running in the legislative and gubernatorial elections, as well as the diplomatic community and the media.
Annan met the Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, the African ambassadors, the international community, civil society leaders, business leaders and the media.His visit began with a civil society conference on elections with integrity, chaired by Cardinal John Onaiyekan and organised by a coalition of Nigerian Non Governmental Organisations under the umbrella of the Election Situation Room with the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
At the conference the participants expressed their concerns about the elections: security; delays in registration; and the heated rhetoric that is heightening tensions.
Kofi Annan underlined the role that political actors, civil society, the security services and the general public have to play in ensuring that the elections are non-violent and acceptable to the people of Nigeria.
He urged all stakeholders to make these elections about the issues rather than the personalities, or the identities of the candidates.