A Minister of External Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, said he was not moved by the Presidency's dismissal of his advice that possible post-2015 polls unrest be forestalled through an anti-violence agreement by the two major contestants, Peoples Democratic Party's Dr. Goodluck Ebelle Jonathan and All Progressives Congress' General Muhammadu Buhari. He said he had done his part.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Sunday Vanguard, on Friday, the Deputy Chairman of the 2014 National Conference replied in one sentence that he had no reaction to the statement made on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati. When asked to respond to a call by Akinyemi that Jonathan and Buhari should sign an undertaking that they would control their supporters against violence before, during and after the 2015 elections, the Presidency's spokesman said that there was no need for its principal to heed the suggestion by the former External Affairs Minister to sign such agreement.
Many calls and texts to the National Publicity of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, were not returned. In the absence of official statement by the APC at the time of filing this report, a party chieftain, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, did not see the Akinyemi's suggestion as a bad idea. He said Buhari, being a man of peace and order, "considering the manner he handled what he saw as electoral fraud against him in 2011 by simply approaching the court and accepting the outcome", would have no problem with anything that would bring peace and security to Nigeria particularly during and after the 2015 elections.
But Abati said, "The President does not need to sign an agreement for him to achieve something to which he is fully committed and of which he has been very consistent. Free, fair and credible elections
constitute one of the major legacies of this administration for which President Jonathan is proud of.
"He proved the point in the conduct of the 2011 general elections and it is public knowledge that every election that has been conducted under President Jonathan's watch has been successful, free, fair and credible. Even when it is an election which the opposition is the winner, he has always been the first to congratulate the opposition."
But a public analyst told Sunday Vanguard that Akinyemi's call for the anti-violence agreement was imperative considering the fact that the claims of free, fair and credible elections conduct by Jonathan, as stated by Abati, failed to ensure violence-free society in the aftermath of the 2011 elections.
His words: "There should not have been any need for violence that greeted parts of the North as a fallout of the irregularities and fraud that greeted the 2011 elections in Nigeria. The claims of free, fair and credible election, as we have been made to believe by the President's man is anything near the truth. To forestall a repeat of the unfortunate incidence is the reason President Jonathan should have been the first to prove the apostleship of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections conduct that he claims to be by embracing what the brilliant professor has suggested."
The Presidency, according to the Abati statement, referred Akinyemi to many reasons Jonathan was not to be seen as the problem justifying why he should not sign any such anti-violence bond. "The people that we should be worried about are the people who have been openly threatening fire and brimstone over an election that they have not yet participated in. You were in this country when one character said that they will form a parallel government,"it said.
"You were in this country when another character said that heaven will fall if they do not win the election. You were in this country when some characters claimed that they have already set up a cabinet over an election which they have not yet participated."
This angle of the Presidency's statement did not go down well with the public affairs analyst, who queried why the opposition's comment should only always be the one that bothers the President whereas many inciting statements had been made by Jonathan's loyalists such as Chief Edwin Clark, Asari Dokubo and 'General' Tompolo and government took no action.
"Asari Dokubo had said that Nigeria would collapse if Jonathan did not win the 2015 presidential election. In a democracy? He has said more and we have read and probably that has also been confirmed by how one of the ex-militant leaders, connected with the maritime security of this country, reportedly purchased six warships. To do what? If anybody does not tell us what for, we know that an effort is thus being made towards fulfilling the threat to collapse Nigeria if Jonathan does not win the 2015 presidential election,"he said.
"Even the refusal by government to issue a statement on Tompolo's warships, as to what action they have taken against him which must include seizure and forfeiture to the state of such warships, has further aggravated tension thus making it imperative that the President should see Akinyemi's letter as a good contribution from concerned stakeholders to a leadership that is truly in love with the unity and peace of the country and the people."
I won't react to Jonathan's statement- Akinyemi
Asked about his response to the President on his suggested solution, Akinyemi said, "I have no reaction to that. The hunters have blown their whistles. If the dogs of war do not want to listen, that is their own business!"
Traditional rulers gave recommendations to Jonathan - Sultan
In the meantime, as a way of playing its natural role of ensuring that there is no violence after the 2015 polls, the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, NCTRN, co-chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar III, and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, on Tuesday, convened its 7th General Assembly under the theme: "Sustaining the natural mandate of the traditional institutions in contemporary Nigeria," where the Sultan reaffirmed the commitment of traditional rulers to ensure peace, unity, justice and stability of the nation. The monarch asked the government to look into their recommendations positively with a view to implementing them.
Since collective effort of the traditional rulers was what was required, the Sultan, who did not want to make a personal statement on the matter, said the assembly of monarchs would deliberate extensively on issues affecting the country, particularly the preparations leading to the 2015 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the insecurity ravaging the country, among others.
When Sunday Vanguard called on the Sultan to get his reaction to the Presidency's attitude to the letter by Akinyemi, which was also written to the Sultan and other eminent traditional rulers across the country, the Secretary to the Sultanate Council, Alhaji Attahiru Hussaini, said only the Secretary to the NCTRN was qualified to make comment on it and that since he, Hussaini, was not at the Abuja meeting, there nothing to say. He added that the Sultan had no personal comment to make but that being a collective NCTRN thing, whatever the national monarchy made on the matter was final.
The best way to avert post-election violence -- Abubakar Umar
To Colonel Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, a former governor of old Kaduna State, the best way to avert or minimise post-election violence in 2015 was to ensure that the polls are free and fair and that the winners should be magnanimous in victory.
His words: "Of course, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi's view is straightforward. The winner must be magnanimous in victory and the loser must be a good loser. That, I think, is the best formula to avert post-election crises. If people do not play by the rules or allow sentiments to prevail, there could be dire consequences; so we call on everyone to play by the rules and show magnanimity in victory and the loser should accept defeat in good faith."
He advised people to vote wisely so as to preserve the unity of Nigeria.
UN, EU, AU, ECOWAS fear for Nigeria
Diplomatic sources told Sunday Vanguard that the United Nations, UN; the European Union, EU; the African Union, AU; as well as the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS; are planning a roundtable on the need to save Nigeria from post-election conflict.
The bodies are already in consultations and are keenly interested in the outcome of the 2015 general elections.
A source, who disclosed this, said the bodies with representatives in Nigeria, were worried about events in the build up to the elections.
The roundtable, Sunday Vanguard was further made to understand, would examine ways of reducing the heat in the polity, sue for an arrangement that would ensure a free and fair electoral process as well as facilitate better relationship between the candidates and the parties.