The All Progressives Congress (APC) has restated its call for a meeting of the leadership of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to stem the rising cases of violence ahead of next month’s polls.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said such a meeting will send a powerful message of zero tolerance to violence to the supporters of both parties, those of other parties and indeed the entire people of Nigeria and the international community, and douse the tension that is building up ahead of the election.
It said the call is a follow-up to the practical steps that have been taken by the party (APC), dating as far back as May 2014, when it first wrote to the leadership of the PDP calling for such a meeting.
‘’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.
‘’We have since been following up on the letter, the latest effort being on Dec. 28th 2014, when we again called for the holding of the bipartisan meeting. Apart from its reply to our initial letter, the PDP has not responded to our peace overtures till date,’’ APC said.
The party said, however, that whether or not the PDP signs on to such a meeting, the APC – as a peaceful party – will continue to educate its members and supporters on the need to eschew all forms of violence before, during and after the election.
APC restated its pledge to continue working for violence-free polls next month, even though the opposition party has been at the receiving end of a series of grave acts of violence in recent times
‘’It is common knowledge that our supporters were shot at while travelling to Port Harcourt for the inaugural presidential campaign on Jan. 6th 2015. The police even prevented those of them who were hospitalized and treated for gunshot wounds from being discharged.
‘’Also, our office in Okrika was bombed on Jan. 11th 2015. Another major incident is the burning of the Jonathan campaign buses in Jos, which is a PDP-on-PDP violence in the wake of the intra-party crisis in Plateau after an apparently unpopular candidate, was rigged in as the party’s governorship flag-bearer in the state. The APC had nothing to do with the Jos violence, even though the PDP has tried to spin it in order to portray our supporters as being behind it.
‘’Even then, our Presidential candidate, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, moved fast to condemn the violence in Jos, on the contrary, neither President Jonathan nor any of his party leaders has condemned the shooting of our supporters and the bombing of our office in Okrika,’’ the party said.
It said only the PDP can benefit from acts of violence, because it does not want the forthcoming election to hold, having seen the handwriting on the wall, adding: ‘’We suspect that is why the party has been cold to our persistent calls for a meeting of the leadership of the two major parties to avert violence.’’
APC said as a party waiting in the wings to assume office at the centre, on the strength of the votes of Nigerians next month, it cannot allow violence to scuttle the will of the people.
The party also expressed curiosity at the escalating Boko Haram crisis in the North-east, saying it fits perfectly into the strategic plan of the PDP to depopulate areas where it is not popular ahead of the election.
It said, however, that Nigerians will reject violence and vote en masse to bring about the much-needed change in the country, instead of the continuity of insecurity, poverty, corruption, bad economy, impunity and bad leadership which the PDP is clamouring for.