A former Head of State and Chairman of the National Peace Committee for 2015 General Elections, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), has ruled out the possibility of an Interim National Government saying he believes in the assurance of the Federal Government.
He also stated that the Peace Committee, made up of security chiefs, party chieftains and religious leaders, would be meeting with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to clear the controversies surrounding the use of card readers in the elections.
The elder statesman spoke with journalists on Thursday night in Abuja after a five-hour meeting held with the stakeholders to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan and the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) abide by the Abuja Accord on the prevention of violence and acceptance of election results.
The accord was sponsored by two world reputable men of peace: former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan and ex-Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
According to him, elections will hold on March 28 as scheduled, while the May 29 handover date remains sacrosanct.
He equally called on party leaders to call their followers to order, warning that the country cannot afford to entertain violence after the elections.
Abdulsalami said, “We are aware of the controversies surrounding the use of card readers and we are going to meet with the INEC on this issue. We are going to meet him to educate us on where they are on this matter.
“We are going to have a meeting with the chairman of INEC to ascertain what has been done regarding their preparedness.
“We have been meeting to review where we stopped at the last meeting. We are aware that the election dates have been shifted. There have been a lot of rumours circulating around the country whether there are plans to form an interim government.
“The President has affirmed that elections will hold on March 28 and there is no issue of interim government. The Attorney-General of the Federation has also said there is nothing like interim government. He has also said that there are no plans to have an interim government. We are appealing to Nigerians to focus on exercising their rights on election day.
“During the meeting here, we were fortunate to have the chairman of APC and representative of the PDP chairman. We are appealing to our youths to ensure that they are not used as thugs. It is always the children of the poor that are used during the elections. We appeal to party leaders to tell their supporters and candidates to be law-abiding. We must ensure that the peace we have had so far is sustained.
According to him, the committee, like every Nigerian, is not happy with the violence and what happened in Okrika, Rivers state. He urged Nigerians to maintain peace during the elections.
The meeting was attended by APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, PDP Deputy National Legal Adviser, Alhaji Bashir Maidugu, Presidential Adviser on inter-party Affairs, Chief Ben Obi, and Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, Dr. Tanko Yunusa, amongst many others.
In an interview with journalists, Oyegun said he aligned with the position of the INEC chairman that only the military could determine whether election would take place on March 28.
He said, “The INEC chairman was being realistic (on election date), I am not comfortable (with INEC chairman’s stance on March 28). I was not comfortable with it in the first time and am still not comfortable with it, but he was being realistic.
“Part of the problem in this country is that electoral violence refuses to abate because law is not being enforced. If there is law enforcement added to our own appeal, I think we will see abatement. But if there is selective law enforcement, because of this power of incumbency, then you cannot expect it to abate.
“There must be change, there has to be change, if we de-escalate the un-necessary political war that is going on now. There is massive attack on INEC, massive attack on the use of PVCs, the massive court actions that are going on now to have our candidate disqualified and even have the PVCs declared illegal by the court of law.
“In law, you can get any kind of judgement, anything before the court is 50-50,” Oyegun added.