Ahead of 2019 elections, President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday in Beijing has once again reiterated that he is not afraid of credible elections that are free and fair.
He stated that he is committed to ensuring that the 2019 is free and fair. Speaking at an interactive session with members of the Nigerian community in China, the President Buhari pledged that Nigeria next general elections will not just be free and fair, but Nigerians will elect the candidates of their choice.
He said, “I have no fear about free and fair elections because that is what brought me to the present position.
“I know what I went through and very few Nigerians could boast of trying four times (contesting for the presidency).
“Those interested in participating in the elections must get their PVCs (Permanent Voter Cards), register in their constituency and elect anybody of their choice across ethnicity and religion.
“The Nigerian Police, law enforcement agencies and INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) must respect the people to express their wishes.”
Citing recent elections in Bauchi, Katsina and Kogi States, the President said the country had made progress relative to elections conducted in the past years.
On security issues, President Buhari reaffirmed that his government has succeeded in curtailing Boko Haram insurgents in the country, adding that the terrorist group no longer controls any part of the country.
He attributed the success to operations of security agencies deployed to counter insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country.
He said: “You will all recall that we contested the last election basically on three issues, which includes security, especially in the North East.
“The Boko Haram used to occupy quite a number of local governments in Borno State but they are not in anyone now.
“They have resorted to a very dangerous way of terrorism by indoctrinating young people, mostly girls and attacking soft targets, churches, mosques and marketplaces.”
On herders and farmers clashes in Nigeria, the President told Nigerians in the Diaspora that while security agencies are doing their best to curtail the clashes, the Nigerian media needed to complement the efforts through objective and informed reportage.
He implored Nigerian media to make an attempt at understanding the cultural and historical implications of some of the misunderstanding between herders and farmers.
He said, “To my disappointment there are a number of things which the members of the press in Nigeria do not make enough efforts, in my observation, to study the historical antecedents of issues that are creating national problems for us.”
According to the President, due to the effects of climate change, a farm that used to belong to five people now belong to 50 people, the weather condition, particularly the rainy season, is now unpredictable.
Buhari partly blamed the farmer’s herders’ controversy on the shrinking of the Lake Chad, which has forced many cattle nomads to seek greener pastures for their herds in other parts of the country.
On Nigeria-China relations, the President applauded China’s generosity and contribution to the development of Nigeria, citing the successful completion of the Abuja-Kaduna railway line, built by the Chinese, and ongoing works on Lagos, Ibadan, Ilorin, Abuja, Kano railway routes.
He said Nigeria and China are also negotiating on the Mambilla project.
He however advised Nigerians planning to travel abroad for “greener pastures” to do so legitimately and not to expect too much from their countries of destination.
He said: “You cannot seek greener pastures in a place where you are not respected because of the colour of your skin or your lack of education or other things.
“Personally, I think you will earn more respect when you remain at home and get a job.”
Acknowledging the material and intellectual support of Nigerians in the Diaspora to the development of Nigeria, the President assured that his administration will remain focused and committed to providing the needed infrastructure and doing the needful for Nigeria’s prosperity.
Earlier in his remarks, the Nigerian Ambassador to China, Baba Ahmed-Jidda, thanked the President for his support to the Embassy, which led to the completion of the Ambassador’s residence.
The Ambassador praised Nigerians resident in the various province of China for being law abiding with the exception of few.
On consular matters, Ahmed-Jidda told Buhari Nigerians still faced difficulties in the process of obtaining Chinese visas, an issue he thinks the President should take up with the Chinese authority.
Also speaking, the President of the China Chapter of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation, Brian Akiti, while wishing the country successful elections in 2019, pledged the support of the organisation to the present administration’s development agenda.
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