THHISDAY HEADLINE: 2019: I Won’t Interfere With INEC, Buhari Assures Nigerian

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President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that he would not interfere with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
The president also gave an undertaking that he would ensure that next year’s polls are free, fair and credible.

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The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojodu, expressed the Buhari’s positions when he read the president’s speech at the 2018 Annual Nigeria Political Parties summit held in Abuja yesterday.

“Today, I pledge to Nigeria, my country to promote free fair and credible election devoid of any form of interference in the activities of INEC, to ensure security and promote a violence free election devoid of animosity and hate speeches, to abide by the extant laws governing political parties and adhere strictly to the code of conduct of political parties in Nigeria. So help me God,” he said in the speech read at the summit, organised by Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos with the theme, “Political Parties and Peaceful Conduct of the 2019 Elections.”

Buhari said the federal government would also ensure violent free polls devoid of rancour.

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The president said, “What has brought us together is our strong desire to build a budding democracy through a peaceful 2019 general election. No matter the nature and level of our political influences, we do not have another nation than Nigeria. These differences should not divide us but should make us stronger. With commitment and perseverance, we will triumph.”

He said that the country had surmounted the challenges of the past 19 years of constructive democracy with wisdom, courage and sacrifices and taste for glory.

“On our part, I want to reassure the nation that this administration is committed to a democratic process characterized by free, fair and credible election. We are committed to providing an enabling environment and a level playing ground for all political parties in the electioneering process without hindrance,” he said.

The president further said that he remained indebted to all the silent patriots that had piloted the nation’s democracy to this point.

According to him, “Democracy is not an event, but a process to ensure that power is always exercised on behalf of the people by their representatives. It is the political parties that carefully select and present candidates for the electorates to choose from, while the elections present the opportunity for the people to make their choices freely through a free and fair contest devoid of violence, intimidation, hate speeches and blackmail.

“Let me emphasise here that electioneering must be approached with the highest level of decorum and strict adherence to the rules of the game, particularly as enshrined in the constitution, the electoral act and indeed the code of conduct which the political parties freely put in place.

“Electioneering must never be seen as a do or die. All over the world, developed and developing, we see nations making huge successes of their electioneering and Nigeria must not be an exception in this global trend of peaceful and transparent election.’’

The president explained that while it is the right of political parties to freely present candidates to the electorates, the parties must also respect the right of voters to freely make their choice without intimidation and negative inducement, saying his administration was absolutely committed to ensuring that the will of the people prevail and not the will of the elites.

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