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Campaign: Buhari warns presidential candidates against hate speech

President Muhammadu Buhari has warned the 18 presidential candidates and their political parties against incitement, urging them to commit to issue-based campaigns to ensure the…

President Muhammadu Buhari has warned the 18 presidential candidates and their political parties against incitement, urging them to commit to issue-based campaigns to ensure the success of the 2023 general elections.

The president, who spoke virtually, gave the warning on Thursday in Abuja, at the signing of the ‘first National Peace Accord by political parties and presidential candidates of the 2023 general elections’ organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC).

The event was attended by former vice resident and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Senator Kashim Shettima, running mate to the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, his counterpart in the New Nigeria People’s Party, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and 14 other contestants who pledged to ensure the success of the 2023 elections.

The president commended members of the NPC, led by its chairman and former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), for their commitment and dedication to supporting peaceful elections in Nigeria and for facilitating peace generally across the country.

“As the President, I have always reiterated my commitment to a peaceful, credible and transparent elections, and what the peace committee has been doing over the years aligns with my belief that Nigeria needs peace in order to achieve credible elections.

“However, the rise of fake news and misinformation continue to pose a significant threat to the pattern of democracy in Nigeria. It has shifted focus away from issue-based campaigns to amplifying the potential for personal attacks, insults, and incitement. It has also significantly diminished the civility and decency in public discourse and debate.

“The initiatives undertaken by the National Peace Committee to commit all political actors to issue-based campaigns devoid of incitement, personal insults and attacks is a welcome development,” Buhari said.

The President said the 2023 general election would be an opportunity to serve and defend Nigeria and uphold its unity and progress.

He said, “Therefore, I call on all Nigerians, political parties, politicians, security agencies, the election management body (Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC) and all stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria is placed first above regional and sectional claims.

“I call on the contestants, especially their publicity agents and media advisers to shun personal attacks, avoid insults and incitement, reject the spread of fake news, and commit to issue-based campaigns and political rallies.”