Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has reminded Nigeria – as the country goes to the polls on Valentine’s Day this year – that the outcome of the elections will affect the entire Continent.
“What happens in Nigeria affects all of Africa,” Annan admonished President Goodluck Jonathan and 10 other presidential candidates vying for the presidency in Africa’s most populous country.
In the presence of Mr Annan on Tuesday January 13, 2015, President Jonathan, former President General Muhammadu Buhari and nine other presidential candidates, at an inter-party workshop, adopted an inter-party agreement on non-violence and the acceptance of the results of the upcoming elections on 14 and 28 February.
“I am pleased that all parties are participating in this responsible initiative,” said Kofi Annan.
“It will reassure Nigerians and their international partners who are concerned about potential election-related violence and its consequences for the country’s prospects,” the Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation said.
The workshop was chaired by Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and attended by the chairmen of the two main parties, and other candidates running in the legislative and gubernatorial elections, as well as the diplomatic community and the media.
The signing of the agreement in Abuja was the highlight of a mission undertaken by Mr. Annan to support peaceful elections with integrity in Nigeria in 2015.
He met the Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, the African ambassadors, the international community, civil society leaders, business leaders and the media.
His visit began with a civil society conference on elections with integrity chaired by Cardinal John Onaiyekan and organised by a coalition of Nigerian NGOs under the umbrella of the Election Situation Room with the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. At the conference the participants expressed their concerns about the elections: security; delays in registration; and the heated rhetoric that is heightening tensions.
Kofi Annan underlined the role that political actors, civil society, the security services and the general public have to play in ensuring that the elections are non-violent and acceptable to the people of Nigeria. He urged all stakeholders to make these elections about the issues rather than the personalities, or the identities of the candidates.
The Kofi Annan Foundation, which Mr Annan chairs, focuses its work on peace and security, sustainable development, human rights and to the rule of law with the aim of helping to create a fairer, more secure world. As part of this work, the Foundation promotes impartial and transparent electoral processes through its Electoral Integrity Initiative, which Mr Annan also chairs.