2023 critical, I’ll ensure your votes count – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has described 2023 as an important year for Nigeria, being an election year that will also witness the transition to another government.

In his New Year Message released on Saturday, the President also gave a personal commitment that he would ensure that the elections were free and fair, noting that Nigerians would decide their next leaders. He said Nigerians must resist being used by politicians to cause unrest and that there would be consequences for any breach of peace during the elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission fixed February 25 for the presidential and National Assembly elections while governorship and state Assembly elections are scheduled for March 11.

In the message, which he described as valedictory, the President stated, “After having the honour of serving you, my compatriots, for the last seven-plus years, my tenure as your President in the most revered tradition of our ongoing and maturing democracy must necessarily come to an end.

“In the next five months, we would have gone to the polls and elected a new president along with new governors and a plethora of other elected officials at both the national and state levels. All these electoral and democratic principles are working in concert because of the transcendent beliefs, beyond partisan politics, of you, the great citizens of Nigeria.

“In addition is my personal commitment and executive promise to see to the letter that the 2023 elections being diligently conducted by INEC will be free and fair. The collective electoral will and votes of Nigerians will be fulfilled, even in the twilight moments of my watch.”

“In year 2023, Nigerians go to the polls to exercise our right to vote and elect a new administration. It is an important year for our country to ensure that we have another smooth transition of government, to whoever the people have decided upon. This administration’s landmark Amended Electoral Act will ensure that we have free and fair elections across the nation.”

He asked Nigerians to take responsibility by ensuring that the elections were free and fair by not engaging and shunning acts that could affect the polls. “We must also resist every attempt to be used by politicians to create unrest in any form to disrupt the elections. We, as government, will ensure such activities are met with the full force of the law,” he added.

Buhari called on Nigerians to assist security agencies with intelligence, noting that security is a collective responsibility. He said with the successes recorded in the North-East, internally displaced persons were being resettled in their homes while progress was being made in the North-West and other regions. He added that police reform programme based on a new presidential vision for Policing in Nigeria was ongoing.

On the economy, the President said his regime was focused on building on the Gross Domestic Product and sustaining the huge surge in the non-oil GDP growth. He promised the nationwide implementation of the Start-Up Act, which he said would boost job creation and reduce unemployment given that youths were the country’s most valuable natural resource.

He added, “The year 2023 would, indeed, be a time when we would work to solidify on delivering key strategic priorities under our SEA (Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption) Agenda. Our security forces are working in partnership to ensure the wins we have got in the war against insurgency, banditry, secession and other crimes are sustained and more wins acquired.

“For the economy, the ongoing infrastructure revolution by our administration will see us deliver the key projects across the nation in power, rail, roads, ports and technology. We as a government are committed to ridding our nation of all forms of corruption, through the collaboration with all the arms of government to effectively prosecute this fight.”

While expressing his felicitations, the President said, “I welcome and accept both the accolades and criticisms in equal measure secured in the conviction that I did my best to serve our dear country Nigeria and I pray that the next President will also pick up the baton and continue the race to make Nigeria one of the leading countries of the world by the end of this century.”

Meanwhile, the Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress has commended the President for laying a solid foundation on which its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, can build.

In a statement by the PCC Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, the APC-PCC, said, “It is like building a tarmac, a solid, concrete foundation.

“The coming administration of APC under the leadership of Asiwaju Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, when elected, by the goodwill of Nigerians, shall put an aeroplane on the tarmac already built by President Buhari that will take us at supersonic speed to our destination. The world shall watch Nigeria soar higher and higher.”

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