By Ebere Chukwuma
Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, appears to have bowed to pressure from Abdulsalami Abubakar, a retired General and former Head of State led National peace Committee, NPC, to sign the Peace Accord. The peace accord document was prepared by the Committee to guide the behavior and conduct of the party Presidential Candidates to ensure a peaceful conduct of the 2019 Presidential elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC .
Sources told the Value News Magazine that Atiku, the PDP Presidential Candidate may have been informed about the implications of not signing the NPC peace accord that had already been signed by other Candidates as he would be held responsible if there is any breach during the election.
The PDP Presidential Candidate may have known that if he fails to sign the peace accord brokered by Abubakar, Yakubu Gowon, the European Union and other eminent Nigerians, President Mummadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, may see it as an opportunity to blackmail him as someone who is out to make trouble which might turn the table against the party. The Value News learnt that he had made up his mind not to sign the document until the NPC members reached out to him to do so to avoid playing into the government’s hand which might put him under close security watch. He has no option but to sign the peace accord document.
In signing the Peace Accord, the PDP presidential Candidate explained that the best way for the government to guarantee a peaceful conduct of the 2019 Presidential election was not by gathering the parties Presidential Candidates together at one center to sign a working document but ensuring that there would be ” fairness and justice”.
He fears that there may not be justice in the 2019 Presidential election as Buhari, the incumbent President is desperate to return to power as he was using all the instruments of power to do so. This may have been seen as a defeatist approach by those who may have taken it upon themselves to put a close watch on the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu led Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure a conduct of a free, fair and credible Presidential election that would be acceptable to all the Candidates without any aggrieved Candidate resorting to Court to contest the election results that would make mockery of Nigeria in the Comity of Nations over its inability to conduct a free and fair Presidential elections.
Atiku, the PDP Presidential Candidate may have told those that care to listen that it was not deliberate not to attend such a high profile meeting organised by Abubakar and his NCP, with the support of Yakubu Gowon, a one – time Military Head of State and the European Union, EU. The PDP, leadership who have been getting knocks , here and there, over the inability of Atiku, to attend the all important meeting had blamed it on ”communication lapse” between the Party and the NPC.
The party claimed that it was conducting investigation into the circumstance that could have resulted into the unfortunate communication lapse. Kola Ogbondiyan, the party Spokesman who described Atiku, the party Presidential candidate as a” global ambassador of peace”, noted that Atiku, would never involve himself with anything that would derail the 2019 Presidential election as he was committed to a ”peaceful electoral process and elections in 2019”.
Going by the large crowd that may have welcomed the PDP Presidential Campaign train in the Country’s geo-political Zones recently visited, particular, Sokoto in the north west and Ibadan, in the south west, Atiku, may have had the impression in mind that he has already won the 2019 Presidential election to be next occupant of Aso Rock, the country’s Seat of Power.
It was therefore not surprising why he said, ”I am delighted that Mr. President has agreed to sign the peace accord”. He would however want him to sign the Electoral Act(Amendment Bill) which had been passed into Law by the National Assembly if he is actually committed to the conduct of a free and fair election next year.
The National Assembly have been on the warpath with the President over his refusal to sign the Bill, thus putting a question mark on his commitment to supervise a free , fair and credible elections next year.
The Law makers may have galvanised public opinion to turn against the president to force him to sign the Electoral Bill but that was how far they could go. The President may have noticed some booby-trap in the bill based on legal interpretation that he may be bidding his time to get the necessary legal advice from Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and other legal experts in the ministry to sign the Bill.
There are fears from both official and unofficial circles that if he fails to sign the Electoral Bill and goes ahead to win the 2019 Presidential election, Atiku, the PDP Presidential Candidate who may feel aggrieved that he has been robbed of victory may drag him to the Election Tribunal , which many believe could get to the Supreme Court to get Justice.