President Muhammadu Buhari says he is all out for free, fair and credible elections starting on February 16.
Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said he (Mr Buhari) gave the assurance at a meeting with traditional rulers at the secretariat complexes of the Councils of Traditional Rulers in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, and Port Harcourt, Rivers, on Tuesday.
Mr Buhari said: “I assure you that I’m all out for free, fair and credible elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) knows my stand on this.
“Nigerians are assured of free and fair elections. Under this leadership, nobody will be allowed to intimidate other citizens.
“Nobody will be allowed to snatch ballot boxes and run with them. I will make sure that the votes count.’’
He commended the introduction of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and Card Reader, and urged the nation to embrace the technology, arguing that without it, the 16 years of misrule by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would not have been brought to an end.
“In 16 years, the PDP thought nobody could remove them from office. The introduction of the PVC and Card Reader made sure that our votes counted in 2015 and the votes of Nigerians will count in 2019,’’ he stressed.
On the issue of security, the president reiterated his commitment to ensure the protection of lives, property and the territorial integrity of the nation, and urged the traditional rulers to play their part as expected of them.
“The question of security begins with you,” Mr Buhari reminded the royal fathers, even as he commended them for calming down the restive situation in the Niger Delta.
“Through you, we have been able to persuade the militants to change their attitudes. I congratulate you on the roles you played that stabilised the security and the economy of the country,” he said.
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State at the reception commended the president for his statesmanship and love for the country.
On his part, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers called for a peaceful conduct of the elections.
The Chairman of Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alfred Diette-Spiff, commended the president for the appointment of citizens of Bayelsa State into key positions and infrastructure projects being put in place.
He, however, added that the state deserved more of such developmental projects.
In his remarks, Dandeson Douglas Jaja of Opobo in Rivers, also called for free and fair elections.
Besides, the monarch appealed to the president to ensure that security agents remained non-partisan throughout the exercise.