From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has assured Nigerians and the international community that it will do all in its power to make sure that the 2015 general election is violence-free; saying the rising apprehension about the polls among the populace is inimical to the conduct of a successful election.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party however said its efforts should be complemented by the PDP-led federal government, which has a propensity for using the security agencies to harass and intimidate the opposition and ordinary citizens.
It also said the FG should take all measures necessary to ensure that the elections are free, fair and credible, since rigging and other acts of electoral malfeasance constitute the immediate trigger for anger and violence during and after elections.
‘’We have heard from Nigerians who are so afraid about possible violence during the forthcoming election that they are even willing to relocate to other countries until after the elections. But, as the biggest opposition party in Nigeria and a major stakeholder in our nation’s democracy, we are assuring, on our part, that there will be no violence.
‘’Though our party has no history of violence, we have commenced a nationwide effort to sensitize our members and supporters to the need to eschew rancour and embrace non-violent methods, even in the face of the kind of provocations to which we were subjected during the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, when our members were needlessly harassed, arrested and detained by partisan security agencies acting under orders from the FG.
‘’If the federal government allows a level playing field for all contestants, if the security agencies stop acting as the armed wing of the ruling PDP, if the electoral umpire will carry out its duties without fear, favour or bias and if citizens are allowed to exercise their franchise unmolested, the stage will be set for a non-violent, free, fair and credible polls. In other words, the government has a major role to play in making the forthcoming polls peaceful.
‘’On our part, in addition to other efforts aimed at ensuring a peaceful election, we pledge to accept the result of an election that is not only free, fair, credible and transparent, but one that is also seen to be so. We hope other parties will make a similar pledge,’’ APC said.
The party said it demonstrated, during its recent rancour-free and festive national convention in Lagos, that elections should be a celebration of democracy, rather than a moment of fear, violence and threat to lives.
It said far from mere rhetoric, it had taken practical steps, as far back as May 2014, to work with the PDP to ensure violence-free polls in 2015.
‘’Following up on a meeting of representatives of both parties in Washington, DC, US, April 7-8 2014 under the auspices of the CSIS Nigeria Election Forum, at which it was agreed that a joint meeting of both parties be convened to discuss and agree on the crucial issue of a Code of Conduct for the campaigns and the elections, we wrote a letter to the PDP suggesting a bipartisan meeting to address the issue.
‘’The PDP agreed to the proposal and suggested that it should be expanded to include the leadership of other political parties in the country. However, problem with logistics meant that the meeting did not hold.
‘’Even with the little time left for the election to hold, we strongly believe that a meeting of the leadership of the two political parties, the APC and the PDP, will send a powerful message to our compatriots and indeed the international community and douse the tension that is building up ahead of the election,’’ APC said.