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Political Parties, Presidential Candidates Sign Peace Accord, as Campaigns Start

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The 18 political parties fielding candidates for the 2023 Nigeria general elections, on Thursday, 29 September 2022, signed a Peace Accord. The Peace Accord initiated by the National Peace Committee (NPC) led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar and Catholic Bishop, Matthew Kukah, seeks to promote peaceful campaigns and elections ahead of the 2023 general elections. At the event, chairmen and presidential candidates of the political parties signed the Peace Accord. However, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu was represented by his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima. Chairman of the NPC, General Abubakar enjoined the parties and their candidates to comply with the electoral laws and carry out their campaign based on issues that are of significant concern to Nigerians.

According to the Committee, it increased the number of Peace Accord signing exercise at national level from one to two. The first is a commitment to peaceful election campaigns and the second is to ensure that candidates accept the outcome of the election as long as it is adjudged to be free, fair and credible, and in the event of any doubt, resort to the judicial process.

Campaigns for the presidential and National Assembly elections kicked off on Wednesday, 28 September. Candidates and their political parties are expected to begin to actively engage Nigerians with their manifestos and canvass for votes ahead of the national elections slated for 25th February 2023.

Previous elections, particularly the 2007, 2011 general elections were characterised by serious violence. The campaign period leading up to the 2015 elections which saw an incumbent President concede defeat, was trailed by violent rhetoric, while the 2019 elections saw a considerable level of election violence and militarisation. In more recent off-cycle elections, the level of election violence has drastically reduced. However, money politics and vote buying appear to have intensified.

The 2023 general elections will be the first nationwide elections to be conducted with the new Electoral Act. The Electoral Act 2022 is expected to potentially and significantly improve the electoral process. Nigerians are watching to see how the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies, political parties, candidates and all other electoral stakeholders will engage the electoral process with the new law as campaigns go into full swing.