Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised not to interfere in the activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards a free, fair and credible general elections in 2019.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojodu, at the 2018 Annual Nigeria Political Parties summit, under the theme; “Political parties and peaceful conduct of the 2019 elections” held in Abuja, yesterday, President Buhari pledged to ensure a violent free poll devoid of rancour.
“Today, I pledge to Nigeria, my country, to promote free, fair and credible election, devoid of any form of interference in the activities of INEC, to ensure security and promote a violence-free election, devoid of animosity and hate speeches, to abide by the extant laws governing political parties and adhere strictly to the code of conduct of political parties in Nigeria. So help me God,” he promised.
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Speaking further, the president said: “What has brought us together is our strong desire to build a budding democracy, through a peaceful 2019 general election. No matter the nature and level of our political influences, we do not have another country than Nigeria. The differences should not divide us, but should make us stronger.With commitment and perseverance, we will triumph.
“He said the country has surmounted the challenges of the past 19 years of constructive democracy with wisdom, courage and sacrifices and taste for glory.
“We remain indebted to all the silent patriots who have piloted our democracy to this point. Democracy is not an event, but a process to ensure that power is always exercised on behalf of the people, by their representatives. It is the political parties that carefully select and present candidates for the electorates to choose from, while the elections present the opportunity for the people to make their choices freely, through a free and fair contest, devoid of violence, intimidation, hate speeches and blackmail.
“Let me emphasis here that electioneering must be approached with the highest level of decorum and strict adherence to the rules of the game, particularly, as enshrined in the constitution, the electoral act and, indeed, the code of conduct, which the political parties freely put in place.
“Electioneering must never be seen as do or die. All over the world, developed and developing, we see nations making a huge successes of their electioneering and Nigeria must not be an exception in this global trend of peaceful and transparent election.
“On our part, I want to reassure the nation that this administration is committed to a democratic process characterised by free, fair and credible election. We are committed to providing an enabling environment and a level playing ground for all political parties in the electioneering process without hindrance.
“While it is the right of political parties to freely present candidates to the electorates, the parties must also respect the right of voters to freely make their choice without intimidation and negative inducement.
“This administration is absolutely committed to ensuring that the will of the people prevail and not the will of the elite.
The interest of Nigeria is higher than the individual interest of any person or group of persons, no matter how highly placed. It is our duty to protect and defend the life of every Nigerian, while exercising his right to vote.
“We must never allow anyone or anything to derail our match to progress. We must refrain from actions that are capable of threatening the security of this country, particularly hate speeches and attitude to intolerance and division. Let us stand together on the common action love, unity and stability to salvage Nigeria. This political summit offers an opportunity for the political parties to dialogue and take stock of our activities.
“The absence of dialogue among political parties in the past led to conflict and polarisation among political leaders and, consequently bitter developments.”
Trust and cooperation between political parties is imperative between political parties, democracy and development.
“In this respect, I want to commend the political parties for strengthening the Interparty Advisory Council to have a common platform for all political parties, to articulate their common problems and deepen democracy. Inter party cooperation in these days is essential for democratic consolidation and national stability.”