The president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.), vowed Tuesday that his government would not allow any candidate to use his “personal resources or influence to intimidate other Nigerians” ahead of next year’s general election.
He added that in six months Nigerians will appreciate his government for respecting them.
According to a statement from his special adviser for media and publicity, Femi Adesina, the president was speaking as he received members of the Progressive Governors’ Forum led by its chairman, Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, at the state house, Abuja.
The statement was titled “Why I Believe in Non-Interference in the Political Process, Buhari.”
Citing the results of the elections for governorship of the states of Ekiti, Anambra and Osun, the president assured Nigerians of his desire to leave strong political institutions by not meddling in elections.
This, he noted, would give credibility to the political process, ensure participation and inclusiveness, and show that the ruling party respects the electorate.
The president said: “I want Nigerians to know that we respect them, and that we show that, we will allow them to vote for whoever they want. We all witnessed what happened in the states of Anambra, Ekiti and Osun What happened in those states gives me great hope that we will succeed.
“We will not allow anyone to use personal resources or their influence to intimidate other Nigerians. We do not allow material, moral or physical harassment. This is the kind of leadership that can emerge and consolidate our nation.
“In six months, Nigerians will appreciate the government of the All Progressive Congress for being sincere and respecting them.”
Against the political leaders of the APC, he called for intensified efforts to “think, meet and devise strategies for the 2023 elections.”
In his remarks, the PGF chairman thanked the president for his leadership and confirmed that the Nigerian economy had grown despite the challenges.
“We would like to congratulate you on the positive trajectory of the economy, with growth of 3.5% in the second quarter, up from 3.1% in the first quarter of this year. Infrastructure projects are underway in various parts of the country and the social intervention program is expanding,” said Bagudu.
However, the People’s Democratic Party spokesman Debo Olugunagba said the president’s statement was an acknowledgment of the need to ensure free, fair and credible elections “without undue interference by money bags”.
Ologunagba stated: “We believe that this election should be based on issues, not on who can buy who. We know that the leaders and veterans of the APC, as reported in various media, are always interested in vote buying and try as much as possible to derail the will of the Nigerian people either by corrupt vote buying or by violence to unleash, which of course we have the records.
“So, if the president says that today, that’s a welcome development, in the hopes that the president will stick to that for once, because if his performance in other sectors, especially security, means anything, then we’ll have to. take that statement with a grain of salt.”