By Clifford Ndujihe & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, assured Nigerians of adequate security and urged them to turn out en mass for the general polls beginning with the Presidential and National Assembly elections tomorrow.
President Buhari, who is seeking re-election on the plank of All Progressives Congress, APC, gave the charge in a 52-point National Broadcast that lasted 21 minutes.
He told Nigerian youths not to allow themselves to be used as willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians that would want to incite them to discredit the elections, alleging that such desperate people were afraid of losing the elections.
Buhari also assured the international community, especially diplomats and foreign observers in tomorrow’s elections, that the government will do everything possible to ensure their safety.
He said any comment or threat of intimidation from any source does not represent the position of the Federal Government.
In addition to urging Nigerians to exercise their franchise, Buhari, in the broadcast, reeled out his achievements so far and urged would-be voters to make informed choice.
The campaign team of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, pooh poohed the broadcast, describing it as a shop-worn campaign and asked the television stations to bill Buhari for it or accord its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the same opportunity.
This is constitutional right
The President Buhari’s address read in part: “On Saturday, February 16, 2019, you will, once again, be called upon to choose the leaders who will pilot the affairs of our great nation for the next four years. This is a constitutional right, which should be freely exercised by all eligible voters.
“I wish, therefore, to start by assuring all Nigerians that this government will do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.
“It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.
“And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfil this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.
‘’Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday (Wednesday), I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.
Assures foreigners of safety
‘’I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“As government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I, therefore, urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation.
Appeals to youths
“At this point, I want to make a special appeal to our youth: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence and destruction. The people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections.’’
Buhari misused platform for campaign — Atiku Campaign
Reacting to the broadcast, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, spokesman of Atiku Abubakar Campaign, said: ‘’Typical Buhari and APC. When the Nigerian public was advised to tune in to a national broadcast by the President, the country was expecting a Presidential broadcast not a misuse of the platform for shop-worn campaign address by the Presidential candidate of the APC.
“But then what do you expect from a President who appears to have lost all sense of political propriety. Remember, he saw nothing wrong in inviting foreign nationals to invade the country and help mobilise against his fellow nationals.
“All the broadcast stations that were deceitfully made to believe they were hooking up to a non-partisan address should immediately proceed to charge the APC presidential candidate for the airtime they expended. In the alternative, we are demanding a commensurate gratis exposure for our candidate, Atiku Abubakar.”