- Assures foreign observers of safety, peaceful conduct of polls
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja, dissociated his government from threats of death and intimidation against international observers from some individuals in the country, saying such acts did not represent the position of the federal government.
Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, had recently threatened that international observers who dared to interfere in Nigeria’s elections would return to their countries in body bags.
In the same vein, the spokesman of the president’s campaign organisation, Festus Keyamo, and presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, had persistently warned and threatened foreign countries not to intervene in the conduct of the elections.
Such remarks had generated reactions from both the international community and many Nigerians.
Consequently, Buhari promised to ensure the safety of foreign observers at the 2019 elections and restated his promise to ensure that this general election beginning tomorrow would be free, fair and peaceful, recalling how he had himself been a beneficiary of free polls by the former administration.
Buhari who gave those assurances in a nationwide broadcast last night ahead of tomorrow’s presidential election, appealed to Nigerians to turn out very well during the elections and cast their votes.
Buhari who recalled how he had signed peace accord with other presidential candidates, assured stakeholders that he would guarantee the conduct of the polls in a peaceful atmosphere.
He urged citizens to be part of the commitment to peaceful conduct of the polls and admonished the youth not to allow themselves to be used to perpetrate election violence, saying those who may want to use them for such heinous act only want to discredit the elections because of their fear of losing.
Reiterating that citizens have the responsibility to promote peace in their neighbourhoods during the polls, Buhari reasoned that this election period is not the time to allow their participation to be driven by ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments.
“And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.
“Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.
“I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“As Government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I therefore urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation.
“At this point, I want to make a special appeal to our youth: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence and destruction. The people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections,” he said.
The president, who used the broadcast to appeal to the consciousness of Nigerians to re-elect him, reeled out what he termed the achievements of his administration and tasked Nigerians to evaluate such achievements.