- Urges aggrieved candidates to explore judicial processes
- 60 attacks, nine fatalities recorded at political rallies – Abdulsalami Abubakar
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday urged candidates contesting elections at all levels to respect the choice of voters and accept the result of the elections as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The President, who witnessed the signing of the Second Peace Accord for the 2023 Presidential elections at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, reminded the political class and their supporters that INEC is the agency empowered by law to announce the results.
”Any aggrieved candidate should resort to the established judicial processes, and we must have the confidence to trust our legal systems.
”I once again ask the candidates to abide by the spirit and letter of the Accord they have signed today.
”Let me remind all Nigerians not for the first time that this is the only country we have, and we must do everything to keep it safe, united and peaceful.
”There should be no riots or acts of violence after the announcement of the election results. All grievances, personal or institutional, should be channeled to the relevant courts,” he said.
The President acknowledged that deep concerns have been raised about the conduct of the 2023 general elections and the outcomes they may throw up.
He, however, assured Nigerians that his administration will continue to do the utmost to deliver a free and fair election.
”Since my assumption of office, we have worked so hard to ensure that we pass on a legacy of free, fair, credible, safe, and peaceful elections.
”We will continue to act with neutrality and allow the rule of law to take precedence over political expediency.
”We have demonstrated that with the off-circle elections in Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States. We allowed Nigerians to decide who should govern them. We are committed to that legacy in this administration.’’
President Buhari therefore assured INEC, security agencies and all relevant institutions saddled with responsibility of conducting the elections, of his administration’s continuous support.
He asked them to be firm and courageous, abiding by the laws and constitutional provisions in conducting the elections.
”We must constantly improve our electoral process using technology and all the positive elements it brings to consolidate the integrity of the elections.”
President Buhari thanked the Chairman and members of the National Peace Committee, led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar, for their commitment and sacrifices to support peaceful elections in Nigeria.
He recalled that in September 2022, the Chairman had respectfully asked him to deliver a goodwill message in support of issue-based and peaceful campaigns and political rallies devoid of insults and personal attacks.
”I readily agreed because this is my personal belief and conviction; that we need to dwell more on issues that are fundamental to Nigerians.
”Despite having no financial support from the government, the Peace Committee has remained steadfast, working with relevant agencies to provide moral compass and serve as an independent agency for alternative dispute resolution on the electoral process.
”I commend the Committee’s commitment and loyalty not only to the electoral process but to peace generally in Nigeria,” President Buhari said, adding that the ”committee has made a name for itself, at home and abroad,” he said.
The President pledged that the Federal Government would give the Peace Committee all the necessary support needed to make their work more impactful and successful.
He called on all other agencies and the International Development Partners to give them all the support in facilitating peaceful elections in the country.
General Abubakar expressed concern about the lack of compliance by major political parties to the National Peace Accord signed in September 2022.
”44 per cent of the violations were carried out by the spokespersons of the political parties; 26 per cent by party members; 19 per cent by the presidential candidates themselves; 11 per cent by the hardcore supporters and 4 per cent by the Chairmen of the parties,” he said.
The Chairman of the Peace Committee stated that the since the start of official campaigning on September 28, 2022, there have been 60 attacks recorded on political rallies, resulting in nine fatalities, with the highest numbers in the South West and South East and lowest in the North East and North Central, according to data collated by the National Election Violence Tracker.
He, therefore, called on all political actors, key stakeholders and Nigerians to support a peaceful transition promoting the ideals of peace and a violent free post-election period.
‘‘I urge all politicians who will sign the accord to fully commit themselves to the letter and spirit of the Accord,’’ he said.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu assured the nation that the presidential election will hold on Saturday, February 25, saying ‘‘INEC is ready.’’
According to him, INEC has already commenced the movement of sensitive materials to the various Local Government Areas nationwide.
”By Friday we will activate the registration area centres so that at first light on Saturday, polling units will open on time.
”The commission is committed to free, fair, and credible elections in compliance with the electoral framework and the spirit of the peace accord.
”All political parties and candidates are hereby reassured of the commission’s neutrality. INEC is not a political party. We have no candidate in the election. Our allegiance is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and our loyalty is to Nigerians.
”Therefore, Nigerians should feel confident that their votes will count,” he said.
TIME, HISTORY WILL SPEAK MORE OF OUR STEWARDSHIP – OSINBAJO
In another development, while asserting that history would speak more eloquently on the stewardship of the Buhari Presidency, the many testimonials of beneficiaries of different programmes under the administration are already clear testament that inspires hope and belief that Nigeria can be transformed.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, made this submission earlier on Wednesday at the unveiling of the PMB Legacy Assured, a compendium of achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s two terms captured by the Ministerial Scorecard series organized by the Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
In his remarks at the event which held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja, the Vice President noted that the millions of beneficiaries of several people-friendly schemes of the administration such as the Social Investment Programmes, among others, “are real people provided with a springboard to do more for themselves and for their communities; real people inspired to hope and believe that Nigeria can be positively transformed in our lifetime.”
Highlighting the social impact of President Buhari’s administration in this regard, Osinbajo was of the view that “time and history will speak more eloquently of our stewardship.”
“I believe I speak the mind of the President when I say that our administration considers it a privilege and an honour to serve the people of our great nation as we have done in the last eight years. These accomplishments are the hard-won dividends of the social contract we entered into with the Nigerian people when we came into office in 2015.”
Noting the continuity in government even after the current administration, the Vice President observed that “life for the living also offers a continuum, such that even when we are no longer in office, we can and must continue to pursue the fulfillment of our country’s great promise and potential wherever we find ourselves.”
On the PMB Legacy Assured scorecard series compilations, Osinbajo commended the Information Minister and his team for compiling the Ministerial Score card series, and the PMB legacy portal which was unveiled at the event.
He described it as a brilliant attempt at keeping a faithful record in audio, video and print of the achievements of the Buhari administration in the last eight years.
Highlighting some star aspects of the compilation/compendium such as the 19-minute teaser of the documentary series played at the event, and the testimonial series, the Vice President buttressed that the beneficiaries of some of the administration’s people-friendly policies, including the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Social Investment Programmes, widely regarded as the largest in Africa, are ample measures of their impact.
He noted examples of ordinary Nigerians who are beneficiaries, such as “the petty trader who was able to expand her business because of TraderMoni (under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP); the unemployed graduate who, benefitting from the N-Power programme discovers a new and profitable path; in addition we see and hear recorded for history; the passengers who could not hide their excitement at the seamless operation of the modern railway system or the state-of-the-art airport terminals; and the President of the rice farmers association who told us how rice production in the country has increased exponentially under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.”
Continuing, the Vice President noted that aside from the significance of the work “as an anthology of the life and times of the Buhari administration, it is also a fascinating and riveting account of unfolding facts and stories of some of the most intriguing events in contemporary Nigeria.”
According to him, these accounts should be given the widest possible reach across traditional and digital media platforms so as “to engage, provoke and maybe even inspire Nigerians and others who may come across it.”
He noted that this was important because the PMB Legacy Assured compilation was a detailed historical record captured with accuracy and authenticity.
“This detailed record, even though some will argue is the biased view of active participants in the matters being recorded, will nevertheless provide very useful source materials for researchers and historians in the future whether they are for or against our administration.
“In other words, by undertaking with great diligence and commitment this incredibly difficult task of record keeping, the Minister and his colleagues in this effort have provided a body of systematically structured facts in writing, photographs and film footage on the most recent eight years of almost a quarter of a century of democracy in Nigeria.”
Osinbajo further stated that “the scorecard series is more than a self-report card, it is a programmatic agenda that has provided a platform for Ministers to highlight their challenges, and unfolding plans for their respective ministries.”