President Muhammadu Buhari has read the riot act to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to ensure free and fair general elections and that every vote must count. He equally tasked security agencies to guarantee peace and order before, during and after the elections.
He said: “Let me reiterate my commitment to free and fair elections. If there is one legacy I want to leave 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 for candidates of their choice without intimidation in any form. I have warned INEC and security agencies to that effect.”
He gave the order yesterday at the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council at the International Conference Centre Abuja.
This was even as he announced that for the day-to-day running of his government not to suffer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the co-chairman of the council would lead the campaigns, which move to Bauchi on Thursday.
He said: “Even though we have only 40 days, this campaign is going to tax us all, because we intend to touch all corners of our great and vast country.
“But 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 Tinubu, my co-chairman, will be fully in charge, and is going to be on 24-hour vigil.
“We will keep insisting that votes must count. Our campaigns will be anchored on our performance in the last four years.
“As we begin campaign in earnest, I implore our leaders to resist being provoked, remain focused and civil in our campaigns. Let us engage our citizens on issues and ask for reflection on the comparative difference between 2015 and 2019 on security, economy and corruption and abuse by those entrusted with leadership in Nigeria.”
He reminded the team that Nigerians voted with the hope the ruling party would make a difference, reiterating that the party is committed to change from an inglorious past of impunity to a secured and accountable future.
“A victory for us as a party is a victory for all well meaning Nigerians, who are committed to CHANGE from an inglorious past; where those in positions of public trust willfully took for themselves what belongs to us all; where the security of our citizens was second place to their acquisition of unwholesome wealth; where our economic growth was sacrificed for the fleeting ease of import dependency.
“We have in the last three 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 direct impact of our policies on improvements in roads, railways, and power supply are evident. There is greater evidence of economic diversification seen in growing local production of agricultural produce and solid minerals.”
Earlier, the Director General of the campaign, Rotimi Amaechi, said: “We are no longer stealing money. PDP stole the money meant to feed Nigerians and until they return it, they will not have peace.
“The President said he would fight corruption that he is doing. We met a tattered economy that if we did nothing Nigeria will be at a mess but today the economy has been growing.
“The change that we promise we cannot complete in four years, anybody that says we can do so in four years must be a magician. What we are pleading with Nigerians for is another four years to consolidate on what we have started.”