2023: Count me out of rigging, says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assured that he would not allow anyone to use personal resources or their influence to intimidate Nigerians.

Buhari also vowed that his administration will allow any form of intimidation, whether materially, morally, or physically in the general elections.

This came just as the Nigerian governors said they are ready to accept any negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that would lead to the resolution of contentious issues.

The President gave the assurance of a transparent election when he received members of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), led by the Chairman and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will continue to bequeath strong political institutions that reflect their choices, through non-interference in elections, citing the outcome of polls in Ekiti, Anambra, and Osun states as indicators.

He contended that non-interference in elections gives credence to the political process, ensures participation and inclusiveness, and shows that the governing party respects the electorate.

Buhari said APC, under his leadership, will continue to respect Nigerians by ensuring that their votes count and the people’s voice matters in choosing political leaders at different levels.

According to him, “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.”

For the 2023 elections, Buhari in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said the 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,” he added.

Buhari urged the party’s political leaders to intensify efforts in “thinking, meeting and strategizing for the 2023 elections.’’

In his remarks, the Chairman of the PGF thanked the President for his leadership, guided by wisdom and foresight, affirming that the Nigerian economy had been growing, despite 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,” Bagudu stated.

The governor said the growth trajectory had defied initial predictions of some multilateral institutions, affirming 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, despite 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.”

The PGF Chairman told the President that some APC governors were contesting elections for a second term in 2023 with impressive records in their first term.

“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 Kebbi State Governor 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.

•Osinbajo to APC governors: We need to act fast on nation’s economy, ASUU strike

Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday took a reflection on current developments in the country and declared that there was an urgent need for government to act fast on the nation’s economy and the six-month-old strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which was extended indefinitely by the union on Monday.

Osinbajo, who is just recovering from knee surgery he underwent last month in a private hospital in Ikeja, Lagos, stated this while receiving some All Progressives Congress, APC, Governors who came on a solidarity visit to him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja

During the brief interaction that followed at the meeting, important national issues were also raised especially regarding the economy and the ASUU strike.

The Vice President and the Governors then agreed to engage these and other pressing issues further to bring urgent resolution for the benefit of the Nigerian people.

According to Osinbajo, “We all need to work together on these critical issues. We need to think through things, and we need to do it fast.”

Speaking while welcoming the Governors led by the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), of Kebbi state, Osinbajo expressed his appreciation for the visit and the good wishes.

He also commended the expertise of Nigerian doctors, and the availability of cutting-edge medical facilities existing in the country but regretted that doctors are restrained by regulations from advertising and as a result, many people are unaware of the level of quality medical services available locally.

Present at the meeting were the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Governors Simon Lalong of Plateau State; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; Muhammad Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State; Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara; Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State; Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State; Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, and the deputy governor of Ebonyi State, Kelechi Igwe.

Speaking to journalists after the solidarity visit, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu pleaded with the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to be mindful of future generations.

Explaining the reason for the visit to the Vice President, Bagudu said, “We came to express our happiness that he has recovered from a serious medical procedure he undertook, and to appreciate him, particularly for showing confidence in yet again the Nigerian medical establishment because he had the procedure here in Nigeria.

“We had the opportunity for him to tell us how capable the team that helped out and also commend that many Nigerians should take steps to find out the amazing opportunities and capacity that is in the medical establishment. We felicitated him, and we thank him for his leadership of the Nigerian National Economic Council.

“We came strictly to greet him and appreciate him. But on the wider issue, yes, indeed, there have been some announcements I think the President as we all know is the chairman of the campaign Council commendably and Director General in the person of Simon Lalong has been announced. And campaigns by law are going to start later in September at the end of September. So before then, there’s nothing more we can say.

“We are very proud that consistent with the democratic traditions around the world and in Nigeria, party members have acted very commendably. We had one of the free and fairest primaries Nigeria has ever recorded. We can only compare it to the 2014 primaries in Lagos which produced the then-candidate but now President Muhammadu Buhari.

“So, we are very proud of our party’s conduct where every aspirant was given a free and fair opportunity, and because that is the case our party men and women across the country were able to mobilize and participate in showing all party members why they should remain in APC and work for APC and pray that APC continues to govern Nigeria.

“I like many other stakeholders, governors, National Assembly Members, president, vice president. Remember during a Salah visit when we paid a visit to the President in Daura, Mr. President appealed to ASUU and said that ASUU should be mindful of the future of the next generation.

“He didn’t play the blame game. He spoke as a father and I think he even went further to say that even if ASUU had been offended, they will please think about our next generation. I think that this is the best state manly statement that can come and we are all appealing to ASUU in particular and indeed all stakeholders.

“Let us do what will ensure that we don’t miss out. Nigeria is competing with other countries; we do not have the luxury of time so we will continue to urge all stakeholders.

“On medical tourism, I just mentioned how happy we are that the Vice President showed confidence in our medical professionals and he drew our attention to something that we didn’t know. He said that in other countries, medical professionals can advertise their skills. In Nigeria, there is a professional code of conduct that denies them the opportunity.

“So, he invited us to look at that, so that we can also maybe put pressure so that Nigerian medical professionals can be at par with their professionals in the world, meaning that we will know the capacity and competency that are here locally and I’m sure with put an end to medical tourism.”

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