By Taiwo Amodu – Abuja
A forum of certain eminent Nigerians, The Compatriots led by former Akwa-Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah, has cautioned against activities and actions that could jeopardize conduct of the forthcoming general elections.
The group offered the admonition on Tuesday in a communique issued at the end of a meeting with presidential candidates of some political parties.
The Compatriots concern was on the heels of a threat by the leadership of some political parties which threathened to boycott the elections if the Central Bank of Nigeria reversed itself on February 10 as deadline for the expiration of old Naira notes.
At the meeting with the group were Chief Kola Abiola, presidential candidate of the
Peoples Redemption Party (PRP); Prince Wole Adebayo of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and representative of the Labour Party candidate and running mate of Peter Obi, Dr. Datti Baba Ahmed.
The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was equally represented by former Governor of Adamawa State, Boni Haruna.
Senators Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Rabiu Kwankwaso, presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress and the New Nigerian People’s Party, (NNPP) could not attend the meeting.
Reading the communique to newsmen, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State urged Nigerians to be vigilant and determined to protect the sanctity of their ballot.
The communique also urged the judiciary to exercise its responsibility with the highest level of integrity and impartiality.
It read in part:” At the end of a very useful and inspiring meeting, the following were agreed:
“INEC’s integrity and competence should be protected by all stakeholders and Nigerians. It is necessary, however, to insist on the utilization of capacities that represent independent audit of its systems and processes from now until the elections.
“Candidates and their supporters should recognize that all Nigerians look forward to this election as being the one that will produce a leadership that will make a difference between further decline and sustainable greatness.
“Nigerians expect a decent contest, a credible election and a peaceful transition to great leadership from all three arms of government.
“Losers should accept defeat or seek redress in the court. At all costs, the elections must hold, and we must avoid throwing the country into crises over the elections.
“All Nigerians who have registered should be availed opportunities to vote. These include allowing those who are legally registered to collect their PVCs, and improving the security environment so that it does not disenfranchise voters on election day.
“The judiciary has a vital role in improving the quality of our democratic process, and this election will provide it with an opportunity to exercise its responsibility with the highest level of integrity and impartiality.
“Government should take steps to relieve the citizen of severe difficulties under which he lives at the moment. This will greatly improve the atmosphere under which the elections will hold.
“Students in tertiary institutions represent a critical segment in the entrenchment of our democracy. Government should allow students the time and all opportunities to vote in the elections.
“Politicians should recognize that the elections are about the citizen’s right to freely exercise choices, and not just about the ambitions of the contestants.
“Nigerians are worried about negative campaigns which include damaging rhetorics and actions which strip contestants, one of whom we expect to be elected President soon, of dignity and respect.
“More Nigerians should be availed opportunities to see contestants discuss issues and contest ideas and strategies in the most mature manner as was witnessed at this meeting.
“For the new government to enjoy legitimacy and general support from the citizens, among other things, there must be an emphasis on ensuring credible elections.
“Irrespective of who wins the election, the new President will take over a sharply divided nation along regional, religious, and tribal lines with huge security issues.
“Consequently, the new government must immediately focus on reconciliation of national grievances and strengthening of accountability and removal of impunity from governance.
“The candidates and the compatriots agreed that polarization of the nation and the insecurity issues are fueled by unfairness, inequity, and injustices.
“It was agreed that the new President will inherit a fractured nation and must immediately embark on a journey of reunification.
“The Compatriots should collaborate with whoever wins the election to address these triple evils.
“The Compatriots believe that because of the diversity and composition of the group which represent the major tribes, religions, geo-political zones, the three generations and all the major social cultural groups, the new administration will gain instant credibility with Nigerians by partnering with The Compatriots.
“The Compatriots expressed gratitude to the contestants who accepted their invitations and have been encouraged by the realization that Nigeria does have aspiring leaders who, given the opportunity, will lead it well.”
Nigerian Tribune checks revealed that The Compatriots was launched last November in Abuja.
Apart from its Chairman, other members include, Chief Tom Iseghohi, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, Hajiya Inna Ciroma,Reverend Bitrus Dangiwa, Hajia Asmau Joda, Generals Zamani Lekwot and Saleh Maina amongst others.