President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday warned security agencies and the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) against undermining the wishes of Nigerians in the forthcoming general polls
He reaffirmed his commitment to making sure that the 2019 polls, under his watch, are free, fair and credible.
Speaking at an interactive session with members of the Nigerian community in Beijing, China, Buhari noted that as a beneficiary of a free and fair election, he is not afraid of a credible process in 2019.
The president pledged that Nigerians eligible to vote in the next general election will be allowed to freely elect candidates of their choice.
Warning against undermining the whishes of Nigerians in the forthcoming polls, Buhari 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, register in their constituencies and elect anybody of their choice across ethnicity and religion. The Nigerian Police, law enforcement agencies and INEC must respect the people to express their wishes’’.
A statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, also quoted the president as citing recent elections in Bauchi, Katsina and Kogi States, as proof that the country has made progress relative to elections conducted in the past years.
On security issues, the Nigerian leader 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 Northeastern part of the country.
He noted: ‘‘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/farmers clashes in Nigeria, President Buhari told Nigerians in the Diaspora that while security agencies are doing their best to curtail the clashes, the Nigerian media needs to complement the efforts through objective and informed reportage.
The president appealed to the Nigerian media to make an attempt at understanding the cultural and historical implications of some of the misunderstanding between herders and farmers.
“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”, he stated.
According to the president, due to the effects of climate change, a farm that used to belong to 5 people now belongs to 50 people; the weather condition, particularly the rainy season is now unpredictable.
Buhari partly blamed the farmers-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.
President Buhari advised Nigerians planning to travel abroad for ‘‘greener pastures’’ to do so legitimately and not to expect too much from their countries of destination.
“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”, he said.
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 provinces of China for being law-abiding with the exception of few.
On consular matters, the envoy told the president that Nigerians still face difficulties in the process of obtaining Chinese visas, an issue he said 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.
In a separate event, the president also met with Nigerian students on scholarship in China.
He told the students: “I hope you will make the best use of this opportunity given to you. Nigeria is grateful to China for extending this generosity to us.
‘‘Chinese is helping Nigeria greatly with building infrastructure; it is very much appreciated. We are pleased with the training they providing for our Nigerian Students.”
President Muhammadu Buhari also met with the executives of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), during which he lauded the construction group for their immense contributions to infrastructure development in Nigeria.
APC Raises The Alarm Over Illegal Meeting On Primaries
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday, raised the alarm over what it termed an “Illegal meeting” by some members of the party on the mode of primaries for the selection of its leaders.
The APC said the aim of the gathering was to fault the resolution of its National Executive Committee (NEC) as regards the mode of the Party’s primary elections.
In a statement signed by its acting national publicity secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena, the party said the identities of the arrowheads have been identified and will be dealt with according to party’s laws.
The statement reads: “The attention of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to an illegal meeting scheduled to hold on Sunday at Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja by some members of our Party organs, with a view to fault the decisions made by the NWC followed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) as regards the mode of the Party’s primary elections.
“We want to state clearly that the meeting which has been fixed for 2pm is illegal and an attempt to puncture the sincere efforts being made by the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC to reposition our Party ahead the 2019 General Elections and to ensure unity, equity and justice in the Party”.
Nabena further noted that the outcome of such meeting which, is already known, will be a nullity, even as he warned members of the party to disregard such meetings in the interest of the Party.
He said, “It is illegal to call such meetings outside the purview of the constituted authority. The identities of those plotting such meetings have been identified and unless they desist from such they will be dealt with in line with the Party’s Constitution at the appropriate time.
“The NWC will resist any attempt to disrupt the current peace and harmony prevailing in our great Party after the exit of some members of our Party. We urge any member who is not satisfied with the decisions of the Party to utillize channels provided by the Party’s constitution to air their views.
“We remain focused in delivering good governance to Nigerians and above all ensuring the victory for our Party come 2019 and we will not be intimidated by the antics of a few in ensuring success for our Party.”
36 APC State Chairmen Meet Over Primaries
But despite the alarm raised by the leadership of the APC on plans by some party stakeholders to meet over the decision taken at last Thursday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in respect of the method for primaries to adopted, the meeting eventually held at a venue other than the one earlier reported, LEADERSHIP finding have revealed.
The 36 state chairmen of the party yesterday held a closed door meeting where they agreed to disassociate themselves from the earlier decision of the NEC to adopt direct primaries for the selection of a presidential candidate and indirect for others.
The meeting which was earlier scheduled to hold at Transcorp hotel in Abuja was later moved secretly to another Hotel immediately the leadership of the party got to know about the gathering.
The meeting was temporarily divided on whether to have journalists cover the proceedings.
One of the leaders said, “We will do everything possible to resist imposition of direct primary, including pass a vote of no confidence in Comrade Oshiomohle led NWC.”
The meeting, it was observed, also had in attendance some party leaders, youth leaders and some Ex-officio members.