The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday, said his government will not allow anyone to use money and thugs to intimidate Nigerians at the polls come 2023.
This was as he said Nigerians will vote for the leader of their choice in the 2023 elections as they are “now wiser” and “know better.”
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President said this when he hosted the West African Elders Forum Pre-Election Mediation Mission, led by former Sierra Leonean President, Dr Ernest Koroma, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The statement was titled “President Buhari to West African Elders: our election will be free, fair, credible.”
Thanking his guests for their service to the sub-region the President cited the off-season elections held in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States, as pointers to the Federal Government’s readiness to allow people to choose leaders they want.
He said, “That right is a guarantee. We are settling down, and making progress. People should vote for whoever they want, in whatever party.
We shall not allow anyone to use money and thugs to intimidate the people. Nigerians know better now, they are wiser and know that it is better to dialogue than to carry weapons. Elections are even more difficult to rig now.”
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Former President Koroma, who led the team of elders said they had met with stakeholders across the parties, civil society, and Independent National Electoral Commission, among others, “and we commend you for making it clear both locally and internationally that the elections would be free and fair.”
He commended the President for not listening to voices that may have tried to convince him to seek a third term in office, against the laws of the country, noting that “other countries look up to Nigeria for direction.”
“When we had issues in Sierra Leone and Liberia, it was Nigeria that came in to stabilise the system,” Koroma said.
He urged Buhari to look into other areas of concern as raised by the stakeholders, including security, and issues that may cast doubts on the clarity and credibility of the elections.
The elders also include former Vice President of The Gambia, Fatoumata Tambajang, former Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, and Executive Director of Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Ann Iyonu.