*Reiterates commitment to peaceful, credible polls in 2023
*Urges Nigerians to use social media responsibly
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, reiterated his administration’s resolve never to interfere with elections conducted in any part of the country by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Speaking in Lisbon, Portugal, at a meeting with representatives of Nigerians living in that country, Buhari cited the recent governorship elections in Anambra and Ekiti states, insisting his government has proven consistently its zero tolerance for interference with elections. He said Nigerians should be allowed to vote for the parties and candidates of their choice.
Buhari also gave assurances of a free hand to INEC, reiterating the commitment of his administration to peaceful, transparent, free, fair and credible elections next year.
He further stressed that with the conclusion of the primaries of the political parties, all eyes were now on the 2023 general election.
The president said, “We also look forward to a smooth transition to the next government. As I have said before, our administration will not compromise on doing the right things and the welfare of Nigerians, home and abroad.”
The president used the occasion to caution against the use of social media to insult and incite crisis, and urged the Diaspora to always promote Nigeria’s unity.
“The world is a global village and technology has shrunk the world even more. Although you reside beyond Nigeria’s boundaries, you can engage easily with the country. In fact, we see the impact of that engagement clearly on social media.
“This platform has empowered Nigerians in the diaspora and given you great influence. As we have seen, however, social media can be a force for good as well as a force for evil. Many countries, including our own, have had to take strong measures against some social media platforms to curb their excesses and prevent them from destabilising our societies.
“I, therefore, call upon you to use social media responsibly. We all want the best for our country and people, so let us strive to build, unite and prosper our nation and people and not to insult and incite from a safe and anonymous distance.”
Buhari expressed delight in the successful involvement of the Diaspora in various fields, such as agriculture, healthcare, education, ICT, and the food industry in Nigeria. He said many countries, including Nigeria, had shown that their diaspora could be a veritable engine for growth and development.
Acknowledging the huge contribution the Diaspora had made to Nigeria’s economy, the president said, “In every field of human endeavour, be it the creative industries, sports, health, academia, Nigerians in the diaspora have thrived and leveraged on their skills to raise our country’s profile higher, economically, socially, technologically and culturally.
“It is for these reasons that this government established the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) to facilitate and support your engagement with our country for a win-win outcome in our effort to keep Nigerians united at home and abroad.”
Buhari also told them, “You must continue to be our ambassadors-at-large in your comportment, actions and character. You must excel and be the best in all your endeavours. While here, you must also not forget home, as you are the example we want to project to the rest of the world.”
Buhari assured the meeting coordinated by Chairman, Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that the federal government would continue to do everything possible to catalyse development in various fields of the economy.
He, therefore, encouraged them to key into the programmes of NIDCOM, so as to contribute to initiatives such as the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Trust Fund.
Earlier, the Nigerian Ambassador to Portugal, Alex Enan Kefas, told Buhari that records indicated that there were some 3,000 Nigerians living in the country, who were generally well-behaved and living peacefully among themselves and the host authorities.
The envoy equally informed the president of the recent arrest and detention of about 13 Nigerians for alleged offences of money laundering and cybercrime.
He said the embassy conducted a consular visit to the prison, which revealed that the arrests were “disproportionate and unjust” as many of them were innocent of the allegations. It stressed, however, that the mission was trying its best to ensure the release of the innocent to enable them reunite with their families.