Nigeria's number one man, President Muhammadu Buhari has talked about the 2023 elections.
The President, yesterday said that his administration will not permit the intimidation of voters during next year’s elections.
He said those in government and other highly privileged citizens would not be allowed to humiliate the electorate.
President Buhari assured that his administration will guarantee a conducive atmosphere during the polls when members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), led by its chairman, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, visited him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Also yesterday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said concrete steps should be taken to tackle some national crises, particularly the worsening economic downturn and the protracted strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
President Buhari, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, assured Nigerians that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will continue to protect their electoral rights through non-interference at polls, citing the outcomes of elections in Ekiti, Anambra and Osun states as indicators.
The president said the non-interference in elections gives credence to the political process, ensures participation and inclusiveness, and shows that the governing party respects the electorate.
He said APC, under his leadership, will continue to respect Nigerians by ensuring that their votes count and the people’s voice matters in choosing political leaders at different levels.
President Buhari said: “I want Nigerians to know that we respect them, and for us to show that we will allow them to vote who they want. We all witnessed what happened in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States. What happened in those states gives me a lot of hope that we are succeeding.”
For the 2023 elections, President Buhari said the government will also ensure that Nigerians do not get intimidated.
“We will not allow anyone to use personal resources or their influence to intimidate other Nigerians. We will not allow intimidation materially, morally or physically. This is the kind of leadership that can emerge and consolidate our nation.
“In six months, Nigerians will appreciate the government of APC that we are sincere and we respect them,’’ he added.
President Buhari urged the party’s political leaders to intensify efforts in “thinking, meeting and strategising for the 2023 elections.’’
Bagudu thanked the President for his leadership, wisdom and foresight, affirming that the economy had been growing despite challenges.
He said: “We want to congratulate you on the positive trajectory of the economy, with the 3.5 per cent growth in the second quarter, up from 3.1 per cent of the first quarter of this year. Infrastructure projects are ongoing in parts of the country, and the social intervention programme is expanding.”
The governor said the growth trajectory had defied initial predictions of some multilateral institutions, affirming that the World Bank and others had acknowledged the resilience of the economy, and reviewed their positions.
He added: “Your Excellency, as we speak, there is drought in Europe and China. The Ukraine-Russia war is taking a toll on economies. In the UK, there is rationing of electricity and energy shortages in China.
“While other countries are banning food export, we are preparing for more production, in spite of floods in places like Jigawa State. We note your instruction for the release of 40,000 tonnes of grains.
“We also note efforts on improving security and measures to cut oil theft.”
The PGF Chairman told the President that some APC governors were contesting elections for a second term in 2023, adding that they have impressive records in their first term.
Bagudu said: “We note the pronouncement of ASUU. We recall the appeal of the President to ASUU while we were visiting Daura that they should consider the future of students.
“We will not dwell on that now. We are ready to accept any negotiations for resolution.”
The Kebbi State Governor commended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, for their steadfastness and stewardship.