A former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton, has been scheduled to meet with major contenders in Nigeria’s presidential candidates to negotiate a peace deal amidst political mudslinging and tension.
Clinton will meet President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, and his main rival, Atiku Abubakar, of the People’s Democratic Party.
Facilitated by Kofi Annan Foundation, the meeting would come a day before the presidential election slated for February 16.
“As Nigeria heads towards presidential elections, every effort must be made to ensure that they take place in a peaceful atmosphere” Alan Doss, President of the Kofi Annan Foundation, said in a press statement on Friday.
“President Bill Clinton is well-known and respected in Nigeria and we are pleased that he agreed to make the trip in order to personally urge all the candidates and their parties to re-commit to the peace pledge they adopted last December,” Doss added.
Doss opined that Clinton’s presence will demonstrate “the importance of these elections not only for Nigeria but Africa as a whole”.
The campaigns have been characterised by intense mudslinging, threats of violence and outright lies.
Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai, a key ally of President Buhari, during the week, threatened that any external actors who try to intervene in the elections and in the internal affairs of the country would return home in a body bags.
“We are waiting for the person who will come and intervene. They will go back in body bags because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country,” said El-Rufai.
“We have got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible,” he said.
Last year Buhari and Atiku both signed an agreement stating a commitment to hold a peaceful election.
Following El-Rufai’s comments, the main opposition PDP said it would be “left with no option than to consider a review of its signatory in the national peace accord” if the ruling party did not stop “comments, threats and incendiary actions”.
El-Rufai’s comment came after the US, the UK and EU expressed their concerns to the Nigerian authorities over the suspension of the chief justice Walter Onnoghen.
Buhari said Onnoghen was suspended for not declaring his assets when he was made the country’s top judge.
Buhari also said “the security agencies have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law.”
But his critics said the suspension was a pre-emptive move by the government with the hope of having a friendly judge at the helms of affairs should the presidential elections result is disputed.
Nigeria’s judiciary has helped resolve electoral disputes in past votes, some of which have been marred by violence and vote-rigging.