Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies to do their utmost in ensuring violence-free elections in Ondo and Rivers States.
The president said elections in these two states would serve as a litmus test for 2019 general election.
Buhari said he was disturbed by what happened in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers States during past elections.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, said Buhari issued the directive at a state dinner in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Monday.
Buhari said the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Ondo and national and state assemblies rerun elections in Rivers would serve as a litmus test for the general election in 2019.
‘‘What happened in (the last elections) Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers States disturb me a lot.
‘‘I think we should go beyond these actions. Why do we kill each other? Putting tyres on people and setting them ablaze.
‘‘I have told the law enforcement agencies, if we can’t conduct an election in one state then we should forget about 2019,’’ the president said.
Acknowledging the role played by outgoing Governor Adams Oshiomhole in ensuring the success of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last gubernatorial election in the state, Buhari challenged the Governor-elect, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to continue in Oshiomhole’s footsteps of providing purposeful leadership in terms of quality infrastructure, education and social services.
‘‘The publicity your predecessor has given his performance is going to stretch you to the limit.
“Considering what he has down, you have to continue in his footsteps. We wish you the best of luck and will do our best to support you,’’ the president said.
On the current economic challenges in the country, the president assured Nigerians that his administration was working hard on diversification of the economy to limit the country’s over-dependence on oil over the years.
“This country has incredible mineral resources. All we need is to believe in ourselves so that we can have and leave a better Nigeria for our children and grandchildren,’’ the president said.