Following the discontent that have so far accompanied the announcement and declaration of the winners of the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Nigeria by the country’s chief electoral arbiter, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Initiative (CPPBI) hereby calls on the country’s political parties, including their supporters, to thread with caution to avoid a catastrophic national crisis.
We are of the conviction that the growing disaffection in some sections of the polity, consequent to the outcome of the polls are capable of escalating into a destructive conflagration that could trigger negative multiplier effects for the country as a whole, if not expeditiously checked.
The political class, INEC, state authorities, the general public and all critical stakeholders are admonished to seek for non-adversarial solutions to the brewing crisis. We are of the conviction that these issues can be tactfully tackled without bloodshed.
We call on INEC to take the pains of swiftly acknowledging and responding to the complaints raised by the aggrieved parties, as well as those emanating from some sections of the public, concerning its conduct of the polls. There is need to convince Nigerians that it is not guilty of the allegations being leveled against it from different quarters. INEC must endeavor to use both its constitutional and discretionary powers to address the thorny issues so far raised by the aggrieved parties.
We call on all the candidates opposed to the final results of the polls, as announced by INEC, to seek legal means for redressing whatever injustices they allegedly suffered at the polls. This is the best way going forward. It is heartwarming that some of them are making efforts towards this option. We also enjoin the judiciary, the “last hope of the common man”, to rise up to the occasion by ensuring that justice is served, if the complainants are able to present verifiable evidence to prove their allegations beyond reasonable doubt. This is a rare opportunity for the bench to restore public confidence in its ability to dispense justice and defend the rights of the citizenry against abuse.
We call on the declared winners of the polls to be magnanimous in victory by reaching out to the losers to seek for ways of working together for the betterment of the country. There is need for synergy among all stakeholders for the country to move forward. They should remember the promises made in their pre-election manifestos which Nigerians will hold them accountable to ultimately.
On unguided statements by some members of the political class – both winners and losers – following INEC’s verdict, there is need for caution to avoid worst case scenarios in the form of violent reactions from their supporters which could threaten the peace and security of the polity.
We call on all aggrieved Nigerians to be calm and alert to the evil designs of conflict entrepreneurs and instigators who could attempt to cash in on the opportunity presented by the widespread disenchantments in some parts of the country to cause mayhem in order to make profit.
To the country’s security forces, we enjoin them to be alert to any threat to the peace and stability of the country by undesirable elements. They should, however, not resort to highhanded measures in keeping the peace, except where there are real threats to lives and property. They should be responsible in their conduct as protectors of the realm remunerated with taxpayers’ money.
A peaceful outcome to the rancorous situation the country currently finds itself, which is normal during election seasons in Nigeria, is possible. We call on all parties to keep their swords sheathed and desist from acts that could push the country to the precipice. Peace can only be achieved by understanding, not by force. God save Nigeria!
Franca N. Joseph
Director Of Communications
For: Conflict Prevention And Peace Building Initiative