2023 elections: Forget rigging, I’ll resolutely defend the will of Nigerians – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday advised those planning to rig the 2023 general elections to perish the thought, vowing to use every legitimate means to protect the votes of Nigerians.

The President said this at an Iftar with members of the Diplomatic Corps at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

‘‘Those planning to rig the forthcoming elections should think twice because I intend to resolutely protect and defend the sacred will of the Nigerian people, to be expressed through the ballot box,’’ he said.

The President also cautioned against foreign interference in the forthcoming elections.

‘‘As you are all aware, the tenure of this Administration ends on 29th May, 2023. Typical of election years all over the world, the tempo of political activities is often high.

‘‘That is the nature of democracy. I am committed to bequeathing a stronger culture of credible elections to Nigeria than I met.

‘‘As Nigeria goes through this trajectory, I urge our friends in the global community, represented by you the Diplomatic Corps, to adopt a positive role that reinforces the doctrine of respect for our internal affairs and respect for facts and devoid of pre-conceived notions and bias,’’ he said.

Addressing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the President called for greater consideration for humanitarian conditions in the affected areas in the ongoing crisis, warning that the conflict will get worse, if an immediate resolution is not found.

‘‘The war has lasted too long, cost so much and hurt too many people, well beyond the immediate theatres.

‘‘The rest of the world is progressively facing the impact of the conflict and this will certainly get worse, if an immediate resolution is not found, not least in the area of food security,” he said.

The President welcomed the recent initiative of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, of visiting Moscow and Kyiv, commending his efforts in search of a ceasefire, as a prelude to other enduring solutions.

‘‘The United Nations must continue to actively lead the way for engagements that could ultimately unlock peace through diplomacy,’’ he said.

The President urged the world, especially the Muslim community, to use the solemn and rewarding month of Ramadan, and especially these last days of the fast, to intensify prayers for de-escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and for the return of peace to the world.

He apprised members of the international community on some of the critical issues that are currently on the front burner of this Administration’s agenda and spirited efforts in handling them.

‘‘We continue to make steady progress on the daunting tasks of combating insecurity; fighting corruption; diversifying the economy; promoting good governance; and containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘‘Despite the many challenges we faced, and continue to face, we have instituted measures to plug leakages, improve the economy and enhance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

‘‘These include: Renewal of vital infrastructure, including rail and roads; Implementation of the N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan to create jobs and provide support to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises; and Launch of the National Development Plan (2021-2025) to spur economic growth, leverage science, technology and innovation.

‘‘Other measures include: Establishment of the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on SDGs with the responsibility for ensuring coherence between development policies, plans and strategies;,‘‘Launch, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, of the Nigeria Sustainable Development Goals Implementation Plan (2020-2030), to prioritise and mainstream the SDGs into their medium and long-term development policies and plans,” he said.

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