To avoid a replication of hate campaigns and divisiveness witnessed in the last general elections, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, a parastatal of the Presidency, on Friday said it would organise a peace conference for politicians and stakeholders that would usher in unity, irrespective of the nation’s diversities.
The event, which would be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, is being jointly organised with a political think-tank, Nigeria for Peace Initiative.
The governorship election in Kogi State has been scheduled for November 21, 2015, while Bayelsa State governorship poll will take place on December 5.
The Permanent Secretary, Political Affairs, in the Office of the SGF, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, confirmed the event in a letter addressed to the initiator of the peace conference and National Liaison Director of NPI, Mr. Kennedy Iyere.
According to her, the Federal Government is willing to fully participate in the peace conference, to avoid the mistakes of the past.
She said, “This is to confirm that the Nigerian National Volunteer Service and the Political Affairs Office in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation are willing to partner with the National Peace-Building Outreach, also known as Nigeria for Peace Initiative, towards the organisation of the National Peace Conference, scheduled to hold in November.”
Speaking at a press briefing held in the office of the SGF in Abuja after its inaugural meeting with officials of the SGF’s office, Iyere explained what informed his decision to partner with the Presidency in organising the peace conference.
He said, “During the 2015 general elections, we actually ran the biggest peace campaign that was non-partisan. We sensitised Nigerians and we are happy that we were able to organise a violence-free election. If you look around today, you still cannot say that the political atmosphere is not saturated with tension.
“The need for caution, to be taken ahead of the 2019 elections, exists. We do not have to wait till the elections come before we sensitise both politicians and Nigerians on the relevance of peace. There is the need to caution against fragmentation. The 2015 election is the most divisive we have ever had since the birth of modern democracy in Nigeria in 1999.
“With the sectional divisions, where the All Progressives Congress is strong in the North, South West and in some parts of South-East while the Peoples Democratic Party is strong in the South-South and South-East, we cannot deny the fact that we are fragmented. This, among other reasons, informed our decision to bring stakeholders together. We have been able to involve all the regional blocs.”
Speaking on his plans to involve the National Assembly and international parliamentarians, Iyere said, “Few days ago, we had a meeting with the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. We are trying to bring them in. We are making moves to take this to the United States of America and involve their Congress.”