President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja assured Nigerians that he would not interfere in the election that would produce his successor next year.
The presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on 25 February, while the state elections – governorship and assembly – which come up on 11 March will conclude the last set of elections with President Buhari concluding his two-term tenure on 28 May 2023.
While receiving the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), led by Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would continue to bequeath strong political institutions that reflect the people’s choices, through non-interference in elections.
He cited the outcome of the recent polls in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States as indicators. While the All Progressives Grand Alliance was reelected in Anambra State, APC was equally retained in Ekiti State with Mr Biodun Oyebanji preparing to replace two-term Governor Kayode Fayemi on 16 October. In Osun State, APC’s candidate, Governor Gboyega Oyetola lost to the Peoples Democratic Party’s Senator Ademola Adeleke.
The President noted that 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 that the APC, under his leadership, would continue to respect Nigerians by ensuring that their votes count and the people’s voice matter in choosing political leaders at different levels.
“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 also said that his administration would ensure that Nigerians do not get intimidated, or humiliated by those in positions, or the more privileged.
“We will not allow anyone to use personal resources or their influence to intimidate other Nigerians. We will not allow intimidations 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 APC’s political leaders to intensity efforts in “thinking, meeting and strategising for the 2023 elections”.
In his remarks, Bagudu thanked the President for his leadership, guided by wisdom and foresight, affirming that the Nigerian economy had been growing, in spite of challenges.
“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”, Bagudu stated.
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.
“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”, he said.
The PGF Chairman told the President that some of his colleague-APC governors were contesting elections for second term in 2023 with impressive records in their first term”.