The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday vowed that his government would not allow any candidate use their “personal resources or influence to intimidate other Nigerians” ahead of the next year general elections.
He added that in six months, Nigerians will appreciate his government that it respects them.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President spoke when he received members of the Progressive Governors’ Forum led by its Chairman, Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, at the State House, Abuja.
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The statement was titled ‘Why I believe in non-interference in the political process, Buhari.’
Citing the outcome of the Ekiti, Anambra and Osun States governorship elections, the President assured Nigerians of his desire to bequeath strong political institutions through non-interference in elections.
This, he noted, would give credence to the political process, ensure participation and inclusiveness, and show that the governing party respects the electorate.
The President said, “I want Nigerians to know that we respect them, and for us to show that, we will allow them to vote who they want. We all witnessed what happened in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states. What happened in those states gives me a lot of hope that we are succeeding.
“We will not allow anyone to use personal resources or their influence to intimidate other Nigerians. We will not allow intimidations materially, morally or physically. This is the kind of leadership that can emerge and consolidate our nation.
“In six months, Nigerians will appreciate the government of the All Progressives Congress that we are sincere and we respect them.’’
To the APC political leaders, he called for intensified efforts in “thinking, meeting and strategising for the 2023 elections.’’
In his remarks, the Chairman of the PGF thanked the President for his leadership, affirming that the Nigerian economy had been growing, in spite of challenges.
“We want to congratulate you on the positive trajectory of the economy, with the 3.5% growth in the second quarter, up from 3.1% of the first quarter of this year. Infrastructure projects are ongoing in different parts of the country, and the social intervention programme is expanding,’’ Bagudu stated.
However, the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party, Debo Olugunagba, said the President’s statement was an acknowledgement of the need to ensure free, fair and credible elections “without unnecessary interference by money bags.”
Ologunagba stated, “We believe that this election should be based on issues, not about who can purchase who. We know that the leaders and the veterans of the APC, as reported in various media, are always interested in buying votes and trying as much as possible to derail the will of the Nigerian people, either by corruptly buying votes, or unleashing violence, which of course, we have the records.
“So, if the President says that today, that is a welcome development, with the hope that the President will keep his word for once on that, because if his performance in other sectors, particularly security, is anything to go by, then we need to take that statement with a pinch of salt.’’