The National Peace Committee (NPC) recently enjoined the leaders of the 18 registered political parties and their candidates to allow the people’s choice to prevail in the 2023 elections. The leader of the NPC, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (retd), stated this at an interactive session with the leaders of the parties in Abuja. The intention of the meeting was to ensure the success of the forthcoming general election.

It was also to build confidence in the electoral process and ensure the success of the crucial elections. The committee also wanted to find out what was wrong with the process and to see how to correct it. It appealed to the candidates to moderate their language during their campaigns, respect the views and concerns of one another and also listen to the concerns expressed.  

The peace committee had met with the presidential candidates in September last year for the signing of the peace accord in Abuja.  It must have felt concerned about the level of altercation noticed in the campaign towards the presidential election coming up on February 25, 2023. The committee must have also been shocked that politicians have not adhered to peaceful campaigns. Most of what we have seen and heard so far is mud-slinging.   

Recently, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) threw some jabs at the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.  The spokesman of the Bola Tinubu Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, made sundry allegations against Atiku and even went to court to seek his arrest and prosecution by the anti-graft agencies. The PDP Presidential Campaign Council responded in kind, and also demanded the arrest of the APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for some corruption allegations. It has been from one allegation to another.

Nigerians should not be carried away by these distractions. At this stage, we think that the candidates and their parties should concentrate on issue-based campaigns. They need to tell Nigerians how they intend to solve the myriad of problems besetting the country currently. Our health and education sectors, for instance, need to be fixed. The basic education level is not well funded. Tertiary education is also in tatters with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) always going on strike. Our hospitals have remained “mere consulting clinics.” The presidential candidates should concentrate on how they intend to launch the rescue operation on these two major sectors.

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We urge them to tell Nigerians how they intend to fight insecurity, poverty, inflation, high debt profile, unemployment and other problems plaguing the nation. Recently, experts predicted that 25 million Nigerians risked severe hunger between June and August this year if urgent steps were not taken to halt it. This is a projected increase from the over 17 million people who are currently at the risk of food insecurity in Nigeria. The country is the poverty capital of the world and is among the top 10 hunger ravaged countries in the world.

Nigeria is still grappling with kidnappings, banditry, terrorism and killings. Recently, a group of terrorists killed a Catholic priest in Niger State, Rev. Father Isaac Achi. Thousands of schoolchildren have been abducted. Some of them were killed. The roads, the rail and even the airports are not free from terrorist attacks.

The economy has witnessed slow growth. The rate of unemployment is conservatively put at over 33 per cent. At 21.34 per cent as of December 2022, inflation rate is the highest in over 17 years. The prices of essential commodities have more than doubled. Electricity has continued to be epileptic. Fuel scarcity has continued to bite harder despite subsidy and high prices.

The candidates should use the campaign to sell their programmes to the electorate instead of engaging in inflammatory comments. There are a lot of issues to focus on. We believe the NPC has done well in reminding them about the frivolities of their actions.

The forthcoming election is an exercise like no other.  All eyes are on Nigeria. Nigerians should be allowed to choose their leaders. We can’t afford to make mistakes this time around. The consequences of electing bad leaders are so dire. Let the choice of the people prevail. Enough of the mud-slinging!