Amid calls for the sack of the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, the Northern Traditional Rulers Council has expressed confidence in him to lead the commission to conduct free, fair and transparent elections on March 28 and April 11.
The council also said it would neither endorse the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan nor his All Progressives Congress counterpart, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for president.
This was contained in a statement on Saturday by the Etsu Nupe, Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, after the NTRC met in Kaduna on Wednesday to discuss the rising “social and political tension” in the country ahead of the general elections.
The statement was published as an advertorial in some national dailies on Saturday.
Chairman of the council and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, and the other traditional rulers in attendance, insisted that the country must conduct peaceful and credible polls.
“The council noted the dire need for the emergence of free, fair and credible elections and resolved to lend a helping hand to the statutory body established to oversee the conduct of the elections that is INEC. The council equally commended the good work being done by INEC under the able leadership of Prof. Attahiru Jega and prayed for the success of INEC’s worthy assignment”, the NTRC said.
The traditional rulers also noted that the nation was going through serious challenges and called on the country’s statesmen not to act as politicians.
“These challenges, coming at the current stage of the nation’s development have to be addressed very carefully and responsibly. In these circumstances, the country needs statesmen more than mere politicians, for these challenges call for reflective and strategic leadership. Therefore, the council calls on the statesmen in the country to come forward and appreciate the need to act like statesmen so as to take the country out of the doldrums.
“As fathers of the nation and custodians of societal values, traditional rulers shall remain neutral and shall ensure that peace reigns. But the traditional rulers need the cooperation of the political leadership”, the statement said.
The NTRC also condemned the unrestrained verbal attacks among politicians, saying their unguarded statements are worsening the current situation of the country.
“Unfortunately, some religious and ethnic leaders have joined the bandwagon thereby making matters worse. The vocabulary used and absence of respect and decorum in the campaigns is particularly disturbing for it tends to initiate the younger generation into a culture of incivility and insolence. It will be sad and tragic if this is all the political leadership is able to bequeath to posterity.
“Traditional rulers cannot watch and fold their hands while the values of the society are torn to pieces and sacrificed on the altar of political ambitions. The council was also immensely disturbed by the kind of exchanges that tend to inflame passions and provoke conflicts constituting a clear breach of the peace”, the NTRC stated.
On their part, the northern traditional rulers promised to do all within the ambit of the law to ensure politicians do not destroy the country in their desperation for power, adding that many citizens may have to bear the brunt of the crisis that may occur.