President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in Abuja said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has since 2015 consistently conducted free and fair elections, assuring Nigerians that his administration will uphold the standard by ensuring “non-interference”.
According to a statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President, (Media & Publicity), President Buhari said: “We have insisted that votes must count and have maintained a policy of non-interference in elections,’’ the President said at the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
“INEC has so far since 2015, conducted fair and credible elections in 195 constituencies nationwide, which have been attested nationwide to be qualitatively better than previous elections.
“Let me reiterate my commitment to free and fair elections. If there is one legacy I want to leave it is the enthronement of democracy as a system of government. And for democracy to be enthroned, elections must be free and fair. That means citizens have a right to vote,’’ he added.
President Buhari told members of the Presidential Campaign Council that, with 40 days to the elections, the task before the council would be herculean as they would have to cover all corners of the country to sell the achievements of the party in over three years, pointing out that Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu would oversee all operations.
“I must also add that, though we will all be deeply involved, I would like to assure the nation that I will do my part without making governance or my work suffer. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, my co-chairman, will be fully in charge, and he is going to be on 24-hour vigil,’’ he said.
President Buhari also noted that the operational buck of the campaign stops at Asiwaju Tinubu’s table, urging all those in the leadership of the campaign, in the field operations on the campaign trail and in the secretariat to consult with Asiwaju whenever guidance was needed.
The President said the campaigns must be conducted with high level of decorum, urging the council to resist all forms of provocation and remain focused as they engage citizens on issues, while asking them to compare the results on economy, security and corruption with past administrations led by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
According to President Buhari,:“We have in the last 3 years and 6 months reversed this downward slide that the PDP took us in its 16 years of misrule. We have restored the territorial integrity of our nation, thanks to our gallant men and women of our armed forces. We are systematically engaged in all the remaining corridors of insurgency, kidnappings, robberies, herdsmen and farmers clashes.
“We have reset our national values: corruption is no longer condoned and is no longer seen as normal for public office holders. The agencies of government are no longer equivocal in dealing with anyone who flouts our laws.
“The high and low are receiving jail terms, loots are being recovered, and Nigerians are increasingly displaying the timeless values of honesty, honour and decency. I congratulate us all for making these changes possible.’’
The President said Nigerians can already testify to the infrastructural development across the country with prudent management of resources and the economy, listing roads, railways and improved power supply as signposts of a growing country.
“Our government has succeeded in the last four years in halting national drift, removing the shadow of insecurity and fear dominating our life and reviving our economy from decline to stability and growth,’’ he noted.
President Buhari said Nigerians voted the administration into power in 2015 because of the trust and confidence that it will make a great difference, adding that “ a victory for us as a party is a victory for all well-meaning Nigerians, who are committed to change from an inglorious past.’’
The Director General of the Campaign Council, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, who is also the Minister of Transportation, said the campaigns will be properly coordinated to ensure a focus on issues, rather than sentiments.