President Muhammadu Buhari assured on Monday that he would leave a legacy of free and fair elections because they are the foundation of political stability and peace in any nation.
Speaking at the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council in Abuja, the President said the quality of elections since 2015 had continued to improve with declining levels of problems that had defined elections in the past.
“We have insisted that votes must count and have maintained a policy of non-inteference in elections. INEC has so far since 2015, conducted fair and credible elections in 195 constituencies nationwide, which have been attested nationwide to be qualitatively better than previous elections.
“Let me reiterate my commitment to free and fair elections. If there is one legacy I want to leave is the enthronement of democracy as a system of government. And for democracy to be enthroned, elections must be free and fair.
“That means citizens have a right to vote for candidates of their choice without intimidation in any form. I have warned INEC and security agencies to that effect.
“We will keep insisting that votes must count. Our campaigns will be anchored on our performance in the last four years,’’ he said.
He said a chieftain of the APC and former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, would take full charge of the re-election campaign.
“Even though we have only 40 days, this campaign is going to tax us all, because we intend to touch all corners of our great and vast country. But I must also add that, though we will all be deeply involved, I would like to assure the nation that I will do my part without making governance or my work suffer.
“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, my co-chairman, will be fully in charge, and is going to be on 24-hour vigil. I therefore urge all of us in the leadership of this campaign, in the field operations on the campaign trail and in the secretariat to consult with Asiwaju whenever guidance is needed,” he said.
The President said the APC had succeeded in taking Nigeria to a new level of enduring peace, economic growth political stability, justice and progress, stressing that “this is the new level we are promising Nigerians, the details of which we will take to Nigerians as we embark on our campaigns.”
He urged all aggrieved members of the APC to recommit themselves to the central task of the party’s victory in the forthcoming elections and to the greater goal of uplifting this nation towards its manifest destiny.
“Having waited for all the dust raised by the nomination exercise, and the carefully worked out reconciliation processes to ensure some measure of healing, we are better placed to put together an all inclusive campaign council, that will effectively engage the entire voting public throughout the length and breadth of our federation, and deliver a resounding victory for us at the general elections,’’ he said.
He said the Presidential Campaign Council was constituted with a conscious determination to ensure inclusiveness and excellence, adding that the council is expected to conduct a campaign based on the party’s modest achievements.
The President said a victory for the APC is a victory for all well meaning Nigerians who are committed to change from an inglorious past; where those in positions of public trust willfully took for themselves what belonged to all.
He said the 16 years of the defunct Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration were injurious to the country and its people because security of the citizens was relegated to second place to the acquisition of unwholesome wealth.
He said under the PDP, economic growth was sacrificed for the fleeting ease of import dependency.
The President said the present administration in the last three years and six months had reversed the downward slide “that the PDP took the us in its 16 years of misrule.”
“We have restored the territorial integrity of our nation, thanks to our gallant men and women of our armed forces. We are systematically engaged in all the remaining corridors of insurgency, kidnappings, robberies, herdsmen and farmers clashes.
“We have reset our national values: corruption is no longer condoned and is no longer seen as normal for public office holders. The agencies of government are no longer equivocal in dealing with anyone who flouts our laws. The high and low are receiving jail terms, loots are being recovered, and Nigerians are increasingly displaying the timeless values of honesty, honour and decency. I congratulate us all for making these changes possible.
“Our economy has become a prudently managed enterprise. Our resources are now working for us, as we ensure the delivery of key national infrastructure, which were left unattended over these past years,” he said.