By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has stated that the 2019 presidential election will be peaceful and less crisis-prone, contrary to the apprehension in some quarters.
Speaking to a students’ group who came to express support for the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari, the VON DG said the two leading presidential candidates share a lot in common to discourage anybody from precipitating ethnic or religious crisis.
For instance, Okechukwu, said that both President Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar are both Muslims and of the same Fulani ethnic stock, adding that their campaigns cannot possibly throw up ethnic-based sentiment or tussle.
Okechukwu who spoke against background of fears and predictions of a possible conflict during next year’s elections, noted that most of the negative indices that usually trigger crisis during elections in the country are absent.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to discountenance the predictions that next year’s general elections might be violent, saying that a lot of indices point to the contrary.
He said: “The two leading contenders, President Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar are both Muslims and Fulanis. So, the issue of ethnic card is cancelled; the issue of religion is also cancelled.
“In a society like ours, we feel that the possibility of crisis is now minimised. So, when you take the religious and ethnic issues out of the way, and the other issue is about their age and both of them are septunagenarians. Nobody can even talk about the young and old; so, three cards have been cancelled,” he said.
While justifying his support for the re-election of President Buhari, Okechukwu said he has achieved a lot within a short period of time.
“The battle is between President Muhammadu Buhari who frowns seriously against looting of public funds and those who cherish the local slogan, ‘Share the Money. Our common denominator is that Buhari is a man of uncommon integrity quotient. As a result, none of his challengers doubted his integrity quotient throughout his over five decades of public service career,” he said.
Earlier, the students group made up of representatives from universities in the six geopolitical zones in country, said their aim was not just to support Buhari but to secure the future of young Nigerians.