Dark Days of Election Rigging, Manipulation Over, Says President

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Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari thursday in Lagos tactically responded to an allegation made recently by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was plotting to rig the forthcoming 2019 polls, saying the days of election rigging and manipulation by corrupt politicians were over.

The president, who made this remark in his Easter message to the nation in commemoration of this year’s crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which he personally signed, thanked God for another Easter season, stating that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ signified the triumph of good over evil and life over death.

Pointing out that this Easter season was a moment to show love, forgiveness, compassion and renewed faith in God’s grace, the president was also quick to warn that as the period of electioneering draws nearer, politicians and stakeholders should resist any temptation to malign the credibility of the nation’s electoral process.

He said he was optimistic that the days of violence, manipulation and election rigging by some unscrupulous politicians who hitherto thrived on the corruption of the nation’s electoral process had been consigned to the dustbin of history, pledging to entrench a legacy of free and fair polls.

“As we approach the period of campaigns, I appeal to our political actors and other stakeholders to resist any act that could mar the integrity of our electoral process.

“I am optimistic that with God on our side, the dark days of Nigeria’s elections being manipulated by violence and rigging by corrupt politicians and their agents are over. They are confined to the dustbin of history where they rightly belong. I remain committed to bequeathing a legacy of the supremacy of the people’s will through the ballot box,” he promised.

The president who also implored Nigerians to exhibit the tenets of the teachings of Jesus Christ through deep reflections, made reference to the Holy Bible which he said stipulated that the life of a man was not in his riches and prosperity but in the sound and profound relationship with his Maker.

He enjoined Nigerians to prioritise the comfort and happiness of others above theirs, observing that doing so would go a long way in helping the nation to overcome bigotry, corruption, hate speech, terrorism and other forms of violence.

He appealed to citizens to acknowledge and support the efforts of his government to halt criminality, wanton destruction of human lives and simultaneously propel the country to the path of growth and development.

Further appealing to Nigerians to promote peace and social justice, the president tasked citizens to rise against those who might choose to exploit the current wave of insecurity ravaging the country for political gains, even as he proceeded to reel out the achievements of his administration.

The president who also expressed gratitude for the return of the 105 Dapchi girls after 30 days in the captivity of Boko Haram, expressed optimism that others yet in captivity including the Chibok girls would be released unconditionally, disclosing that he had instructed the security forces to ensure adequate protection for schools as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the crisis-ridden North-east.

“I am indeed delighted to join our Christian brothers and sisters to commemorate this year’s Easter celebration. We thank the Almighty God for granting us the opportunity to celebrate another Easter at a time of great promise and hope for our dear nation, despite the challenges we also have.

“Easter, the season in which Christians mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, represents the triumph of good over evil; and life over death. It is also a time to show love, forgiveness, compassion and renewed hope in the Grace of God.

“The Holy Scripture affirms that happiness and fulfilment in life do not flow from acquiring the best things in life, but in being richer in a relationship with God and fellow human beings.

“Let us use the opportunity of this special season to deeply reflect on how every one of us can imbibe the profound teachings of Jesus Christ with renewed vigour.

“In so doing and by placing the joy, comfort and happiness of others above ours, we will make a statement that vices such as, hate speech, bigotry, corruption, banditry and terrorism have no place in our nation.

“We must do all it takes to love our neighbours and display an increased spirit of tolerance and accommodation.

“I commend those who recognise and support our unwavering efforts to prevent the spread of conflicts in our communities; check wanton criminality and the taking of innocent lives; unite the country; and steer the ship of state to a steady path of economic growth, job creation and development.

“While we enjoin law-abiding fellow compatriots to work for peace and social justice in our beloved country, let there be no doubt of our resolve to firmly resist others who may want to make cheap political capital out of current national security challenges.

“Our programmes and policies in the last three years have resulted in bringing down the prices of staple crops; gradual improvement of the road, rail and electricity infrastructure; and making Nigeria the preferred destination for investors.

“More than ever before, we are ready to consolidate on these gains and ensure that we improve the lot of our communities in the years ahead.

“Thankfully, our Dapchi schoolgirls who were safely released recently after 30 agonising days in the hands of their abductors, have been reunited with their families.

“I am very optimistic that all others, including the Chibok girls who are still in captivity, will be safely released unconditionally to their families. I urge you to continue to pray for their safe return.

“In the meantime, I have given clear instructions to our security agencies to prioritise safety in schools in areas where the humanitarian and security situation are still dire, in addition to ensuring adequate protection of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

“As we approach the period of campaigns, I appeal to our political actors and other stakeholders to resist any act that could mar the integrity of our electoral process.

“I am optimistic that with God on our side, the dark days of Nigeria’s elections being manipulated by violence and rigging by corrupt politicians and their agents are over.

“They are confined to the dustbin of history where they rightly belong. I remain committed to bequeathing a legacy of the supremacy of the people’s will through the ballot box. May this year’s Easter celebration brings us renewed hope and confidence as a great nation,” Buhari stated.