President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday urged other presidential candidates to ensure that the February 16 election is peaceful, even as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, declared that the lives of Nigerians matter more than his presidential ambition.
The President disclosed that his administration has given the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, all the resources needed to conduct the forthcoming elections, stressing that security operatives have been briefed to ensure a peaceful conduct of the elections.
While appealing to Nigerians to go out and cast their vote confidently on Saturday, the former vice president urged security agencies to not arrest opposition leaders 24 to 48 hours before the election
Both top contenders for the poll spoke during the signing of a second Peace Accord at the International Conference Center, ICC, Abuja, ahead of Saturday’s presidential election.
The President further cautioned the youths against allowing themselves to be used to cause trouble during the polls.
According to him, “We are witnessing an exciting development in the area of the engagement of our youths and women in the democratic process, hitherto these groups have not been in the mainstream of our political composition. It’s in our consideration that we passed the Not-Too-Young-To-Run bill last year. The success of the Act is illustrated in the unprecedented number of young men and women who have stepped forward to participate in this process at all levels.
“Significantly, we witnessed also the emergence of women as candidates across the political space.
“The elections are taking place against the bedrock of the emergence and unprecedented number of political parties, as now the 91 political parties out of which over 70 fielded presidential candidates, although some have dropped out of the race, but there is no doubt that our country is moving forward and our democracy is expanding.
“I call on all Nigerians to contribute to the building of viable country by more participation that goes beyond mere casting of votes, elections by themselves do not constitute democracy, it is the secret of citizenship, engagement and utilizing the energy of citizens towards attainment of good governance.
“We have assembled here to mark the final phase of our campaigns and we are now at the doorstep of our elections. The campaigns so far has gone well and we thank God for that. For the few incidents for which people lost their lives we pray that God grant them eternal peace.
“Now campaigns are over, our next assignment is for us all as citizens and contestants alike to go out and exercise our civic duties. We presidential candidates are here to sign and commit ourselves to do all that is possible to ensure the success of the elections but most importantly , I urge my fellow contestants to commit to this ideals that will keep our country and people safe.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has already assured us that they have done everything possible to ensure free and fair elections, and to ensure this i made sure INEC gets all the resources they needed to perform their jobs.
“Our security agencies have been fully briefed and they know that security is key to conduct credibility and success of the elections.
“To members of the intentional community, i say welcome to Nigeria and thank you for standing by us, your presence helps to validate our process and commitment to our growing democracy.
“As we go into elections in a few days time, please let us pray for our country, let use this opportunity to strengthen our beliefs in a united country. Our elections are important only to the extent that they make our country peaceful and prepare us for the development.
“I appeal to our young people don’t allow yourselves to be used to cause riot, please eschew all forms of violence and cooperate with all the relevant agencies during this elections, we will vote according to parties but in the end the only real party is Nigeria our country. Our elections are important only to the extent that they make us strong so let’s do our best.”
On his part, Atiku said, “May I use this opportunity to renew my profound gratitude, firstly to my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and then to General Abdulsalami Abubakar and members of the Peace Committee for their tireless enthusiasm, dedication, and passion towards ensuring the success of this Peace Accord Process.
“Our gathering here today clearly demonstrates the importance of the upcoming elections as well as how our democracy has matured, not only to our people, but also to the international community whose solidarity, Nigeria’s democracy has benefited from.
“As we prepare to sign off on this Peace Accord, as representatives of our party and people, may I freely quote the words of former President Goodluck Jonathan, which remains a benchmark, for me, taking into account the deep feelings that prevail as February 16th, 2019, approaches. ‘My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian’.”
“In this context, I appeal once again to every staff and the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police Force, to be fair arbiters in the upcoming elections while letting neutrality prevail.
“For emphasis and in the spirit of fair play, I also urge our security agencies, not to embark on indiscriminate arrests of members of the opposition, 24 to 48 hours before elections, as has been the case in previous elections.
“Hopefully, our democracy should emerge stronger from this process with the 2019 elections proving better managed than the 2015 process, which was adjudged free and fair with the then opposition’s victory unobstructed
“Consequently, I also appeal to the President, General Buhari, to use his good office to ensure that every eligible person who casts their vote is confident in the process and in the belief that their vote will count.
“Additionally, every candidate must remember that this election is about the future of Nigeria, therefore, we must abide by the will of the people as freely expressed through elections, under the terms of our constitution.
“Once again, despite concerns expressed by my party leaders concerning likely electoral malpractices and the intimidation of voters and observers, I trust that our election officials and security services will do their duty in accordance with their oath and obligations.
“In conclusion, I appeal once again, to our citizens, to go out and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice, to be peaceful at all times, and confident in our democracy, its institutions and processes.
“So, please go out this Saturday to vote for your future and the future of our great nation. May God bless you and God bless Nigeria.”