President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Ondo State would be free and fair, saying that his administration would ensure citizens across Nigeria were given a level playing ground in electing their choiced persons to leadership positions.
This, he said, was in line with his commitment in ensuring that innocent Nigerians don’t suffer regardless of political party, ethnic, tribe or religious affiliations across the country.
President Buhari maintained that plans had been concluded to ensure all players involved in the exercise were neutral in discharging their duties and responsibilities toward ensuring credible elections during next month poll.
Speaking on Friday when Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State led his Deputy, Philip Shuaibu and other party supporters to the State House on a thank-you-visit, President Buhari said that his single desire was to leave behind a legacy of free, fair and credible election in Nigeria.
He noted that regardless of connections, party affliations and financial war chest of every contestants, there would be level playing for candidates across all political divides and that security agencies would be neutral while discharging their election duties.
“I thank you for bringing your deputy and supporters to come and see me after beating my party. I am supposed to preside over all Nigerian interests whether I like it or not, but my single desire is to make sure that innocent people don’t suffer. That message I got across to the Inspector General of Police, that elections must be free and fair.
“If contestants have too much money and they decide to spray, so be it. But what I insist is, nobody should go and raise a counter force to the government, arm heavily-drugged thugs to go and humiliate people.
“I want Nigerians to appreciate that I respect them as Nigerians and that I am bound by the oath I have taken, that their security is in the hands of God and in the hands of the government, which I am leading,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina.
President Buhari noted that as the leader of the governing party, and despite the fact that the party has lost some states in elections, he wishes to leave behind a political culture based on integrity.
“We have lost states across the country. Now I do not like to escape the responsibility, seeing as the leader of the country, I am also the leader of my party, that I am not leading the party very well.
“I am trying to make sure that the party is built on a civilised basis, rule of law and respect for human rights and human beings, right from polling units to local governments, to states up to Abuja and that’s what I have been insisting as my contribution to the National Working Committee and executive of the party. I know we are a developing country, a developing economy and trying to develop our political culture. I want the development of political culture to be based on integrity and accountability. Let people work very hard and earn what they are looking for through their hard work and through fair competition,” the President said.
In his remarks, Governor Obaseki thanked the President for ensuring that fair play reigned during the election which saw him victorious.
“You would recall a couple of weeks before the election, I came to see you and you assured me that we were going to have a free, peaceful and credible election. That is what we had during the election of 19th September and the whole world has acclaimed that Edo election was perhaps one of the best conducted in recent times in Nigeria. This could not have been possible without your insistence that the right things be done, and for that, we want to say thank you very much,” he said.