By Ismaila Chafe, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that the governing party, All Progressives Congress (APC), will bequeath strong political institutions that reflect their choices, through non-interference in elections.
Mr Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman, in a statement in Abuja, said that the president gave the assurance when he received members of Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), led by its Chairman, Gov. Abubakar Bagudu, on Tuesday.
The president cited the outcomes of elections in Ekiti, Anambra and Osun States as indicators of his administration’s non-interference in political processes in the country.
According to him, non-interference in elections gives credence to the political processes, ensures participation and inclusiveness, and shows that the governing party respects the electorate.
He said that APC, under his leadership, would continue to respect Nigerians by ensuring that their votes counted, while the people’s voices mattered 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,” he said.
On the forthcoming 2023 elections, Buhari said: “Government will also ensure that Nigerians don’t 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 intimidation 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.”
The president urged the party’s political leaders to intensity efforts in “thinking, meeting and strategizing for the 2023 elections.’’
In his remarks, Bagudu, the PGF chairman, thanked the president for his leadership, guided by wisdom and foresight, while affirming that the Nigerian economy had been growing, in spite of the formidable 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,’’ he stated.
The governor said that the growth trajectory had defied initial predictions of some multilateral institutions.
Bagudu said 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 APC governors were contesting elections for the second term in 2023, with impressive records in their first terms.
“We note the pronouncement of ASUU. We recall the appeal of the president to ASUU, while we were visiting Daura that they should consider the future of students.
“We will not dwell on that now. We are ready to accept any negotiations for resolution,’’ Bagudu added.
The governor also commended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, for their steadfastness and stewardship.