The Nigeria’s National Peace Committee has called on Nigerians to defend the nation’s democracy by going out to vote on Saturday.
The call was made in a statement jointly signed by Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, and Mathew Kukah, bishop of the Catholic diocese of Sokoto.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had postponed the general election, citing challenges with logistics.
The committee urged the electorate to put aside the disappointment of the postponement and “respond to the call to patriotism”.
“We understand your right to feel disappointed by INEC. However, we appeal to you all to see this as a watershed in the life of our fledgling Democracy. The only way we can ensure a steady Democracy is for us to learn the lessons from these sad developments,” the committee said.
“Therefore, we appeal to you not to count the cost of the setback, but respond to the call to patriotism. Do not relent, go out and fulfill your duty to your family and country on Election Day. We will soon turn the corner in hope. Rather than despair, rise up to defend our Democracy.
“There is enough blame to pass around. The real challenge now is for us as a nation, to reach out to the deepest instincts of faith in God and our country. We must put everything aside and see this as a battle that all of us must win. The challenge is not who to sacrifice, but what sacrifice to make.
The committee called on politicians to look beyond the struggle for power and work with the INEC “to inspire our people to new heights”.
It also charged the electoral body to work towards reclaiming its integrity, advising it to “patiently continue to focus on attaining internal cohesion and coordination”.
“The challenge before you goes beyond the narrowness of political opportunities. This is not time to trade blames or to incite your supporters. Be temperate in your language so that we do not inadvertently set up our people for violence,” the NPC said.
“Do not give room to external enemies to infiltrate and destroy the confidence and trust that your organisation has earned.”