ABUJA. – Nigerian presidential candidates signed a pledge yesterday to ensure peaceful elections in February, after previous ballots were marred by violence, voter intimidation and vote rigging.
In a recorded video message to the signing ceremony, outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari urged candidates to run “issue-based campaigns”, shun “personal attacks, insults and incitement” and avoid spreading fake news.
The race to succeed him officially started on Wednesday, giving candidates their longest campaign period since the end of military rule in 1999.
Independent National Electoral Commission chairman Mahmood Yakubu said the commission will be monitoring to ensure that “parties shun abusive, intemperate or slanderous language as well as insinuations or innuendoes likely to provoke a breach of the peace during the electioneering campaigns.”
Diplomats, church leaders, the chief of Nigerian police and Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, were among those who witnessed yesterday’s event.
The NPC was formed in 2014 by elder Nigerian statesmen and initiated the peace pledge to support free, fair and credible elections as well as mediate in electoral disputes.
Eighteen candidates are vying for Nigeria’s presidency, and the three leading contenders include Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and candidate of the governing All Progressive Congress, opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar, former vice president and Labour Party’s candidate Peter Obi. – Reuters