ri By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – AHEAD of the forthcoming elections, President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday tasked the security agencies to work closely with the traditional rulers in the country to ensure a peaceful and credible election.
President Buhari who was speaking at the 10th General Assembly of the National Council of Traditional Rulers in Nigeria, NCTRN, in Abuja Monday warned that the government will not tolerate reckless speeches designed to provoke disturbances by what he described as activities of unscrupulous individuals that use election to cause crisis in the polity.
He challenged traditional rulers in the country to bring their positions to bear on peace and security in their domains during the 2019 general election in the country.
According to him, “Given the activities of unscrupulous individuals who use the election season to foment trouble and disturb the electoral process, the role of security agencies is particularly crucial.
“But the backbone of effective security is quality intelligence and the most trusted repository of local intelligence is of course the royal father in his domain, and we encourage the security agencies to work closely with you in this enormous task.
“As a nation with diverse norms, cultures, traditions, ethnic nationalities and religions we have witnessed various degrees of conflicts and violence during elections in the past borne out of irresponsible utterances, hate speech, designed to incite and provoke disturbances.
“We must not tolerate this dangerous behavior. Your positions as traditional heads of your communities accord you considerable influence and the respect of your subjects.”
President Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the general assembly of the traditional rulers came at the right time when Nigerians are preparing to vote in new leaders.
He urged the royal fathers to build synergies important in assuring free, fair and peaceful elections to enable them to contribute to voter education.
According to him this would ensure that the electorate understands the processes to undergo during the election.
He said, “Coming at this time, this annual gathering of the royal heads of our traditional institutions is indeed a blessing and the theme most appropriate.
“This is because the role of your royal majesties and traditional institutions are crucial for connecting the people of your kingdoms and domains to the federal and state agencies responsible for the conduct of elections.
“The major purpose of establishing that link is to educate the local electorate or reinforce information that they may have about electoral processes as laid down by INEC.
“For example, INEC has said that in the forthcoming polls, voters will be accredited and then vote immediately after accreditation.
“This is different from the old method of accreditation first and then coming back hours later to vote. This must be well disseminated to all.
“Similarly, the use of card readers, the role of party agents and other electoral actors will require some explanation and some dissemination, especially where the rules have changed.
“And we expect that INEC will be working in close collaboration with all of our royal fathers in your various domains to ensure that not are you adequately informed but also that your people are also adequately informed.”
The president restated the commitment of the Nigerian government to deliver a transparent, free and fair, credible and peaceful election this year.
He said the security agencies have been directed to maintain peace and order and provide security during elections, warning that “any attempt to cause mayhem and undermine the electoral process would be met with the full force of the law.”
According to the president, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is properly equipped and free to conduct the election.
“As a democracy in the 21st Century, it is time for us to take our own place in the comity of nations as one to be reckoned with by ensuring that the 2019 general election meet all the standards civilized processes around the world and are free from all forms of irregularities,” President Buhari said.
In his comments, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who is the Co-Chairman of the General Assembly of the National Council of Traditional Rulers in Nigeria, said promised that the royal fathers would galvanize their subjects to perform their civic duties by voting in the election.
Oba Ogunwusi said the royal fathers would also ensure a peaceful conduct of the 2019 general election in their domains.
Among traditional that attended the event were the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, who is the Co-Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, and the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.