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I am not afraid of credible polls – Buhari

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By Olisemeka Obeche
(With Agency Reports)
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged his government’s com­mitment towards the conduct of free, fair and cred­ible general elections in 2019. Buhari, who made the decla­ration during an interactive session with members of the Nigerian community on Sun­day in the Chinese capital city, Beijing, stressed that as a beneficiary of free and fair elections in 2015, he was not afraid of conducting a credible electoral process next year.

According to Buhari, “I have no fear about free and fair elections because that is what brought me to the pres­ent position. I know what I went through and very few Ni­gerians could boast of trying four times [contesting for the presidency]. The incumbent president, who is sure to fly the ticket of the ruling All Pro­gressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election, assured eligible Nigerian vot­ers that they will be allowed to freely elect candidates of their choice during the forthcoming general election.
“Those inter­ested in participating in the elections must get their PVCs, register in their constituen­cy and elect anybody of their choice across ethnicity and religion.

The Nigerian police, law enforcement agencies and INEC must respect the people to express their wishes,’’ he said. Buhari cited recent elec­tions in Bauchi, Katsina and Kogi states respectively as a yardstick that the coun­try had made progress in its quest to deepen democ­racy through free and fair elections.

On security issues, the president argued that his government has succeeded in curtailing Boko Haram in­surgents in the country, add­ing that the terrorist group no longer controls any part of the country.

He was quick to attribute the success to op­erations of security agencies deployed to counter insur­gency in the North-eastern part of the country. “You will all recall that we contested the last election basically on three issues, which includes security, especially in the North-east.

The Boko Haram used to occupy quite a num­ber of local governments in Borno state but they are not in any one now. They have resorted to a very dangerous way of terrorism by indoctri­nating young people, mostly girls, and attacking soft tar­gets, churches, mosques and marketplaces,’’ he said.

On herders and farmers clashes in Nigeria, the pres­ident told Nigerians in the Diaspora that while security agencies are doing their best to curtail the clashes, the Nigerian media need to com­plement the efforts through objective and informed reportage.

The president appealed to the Nigerian media to make an attempt at understanding the cultural and historical implications of some of the misunderstanding between herders and farmers.

In the words of the presi­dent: ‘‘to my disappointment, there are a number of things which the members of the press in Nigeria do not make enough efforts, in my obser­vation, to study – the histori­cal antecedents of issues that are creating national prob­lems for us.’’

According to the presi­dent, due to the effects of climate change, a farm that used to belong to 5 people now belongs to 50 people, the weather condition, particu­larly the rainy season, is now unpredictable.

Buhari partly blamed the farmers/herders controversy on the shrinking of the Lake Chad, which forced many cattle nomads to seek green­er pastures for their herds in other parts of the country.

On Nigeria-China rela­tions, the president applaud­ed China’s generosity and contribution to the develop­ment of Nigeria, citing the successful completion of the Abuja-Kaduna railway line built by the Chinese and ongoing works on Lagos, Ibadan, Ilorin, Abuja, Kano railway routes. He added that Nigeria and China were also negotiating on the Mam­billa project.

President Buhari advised Nigerians planning to travel abroad for ‘‘greener pastures’’ to do so legitimately and not to expect too much from their countries of destination.

“You cannot seek greener pastures in a place where you are not respected because of the colour of your skin or your lack of education or oth­er things. Personally, I think you will earn more respect when you remain at home and get a job,’’ he said. On Nigeria-China relations, the president applauded China’s generosity and contribution to the development of Nige­ria, citing the successful com­pletion of the Abuja-Kaduna railway line, built by the Chi­nese, and ongoing works on Lagos, Ibadan, Ilorin, Abuja, Kano railway routes.

He said Nigeria and China are also negotiating on the Mambilla project. President Buhari advised Nigerians planning to travel abroad for ‘‘greener pastures’’ to do so legitimately and not to expect too much from their countries of destination.

‘‘You cannot seek greener pastures in a place where you are not respected because of the colour of your skin or your lack of education or oth­er things. Personally, I think you will earn more respect when you remain at home and get a job,’’ he said.

Acknowledging the materi­al and intellectual support of Nigerians in the Diaspora to the development of Nigeria, the president assured that his administration would remain focused and commit­ted to providing the need­ed infrastructure and doing the needful for Nigeria’s prosperity.

Earlier, in his remarks, the Nigerian Ambassador to China, Baba Ahmed-Jidda, thanked the president for his support to the embassy which led to the completion of the ambassador’s residence. The ambassador praised Nigeri­ans resident in the various provinces of China for being law-abiding with the excep­tion of a few.

On consular matters, the envoy told the president Ni­gerians still faced difficulties in the process of obtaining Chinese visas – an issue he thinks the president should take up with the Chinese authorities.
Also speaking, the presi­dent of the China Chapter of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation, Brian Akiti, while wishing the country successful elections in 2019, pledged the support of the organisation to the present administration’s develop­ment agenda.
In a separate event, the president also met with Nigerian students on scholarship in China. He told the students: “I hope you will make the best use of this opportunity given to you. Nigeria is grateful to China for extending this generos­ity to us.
‘‘The Chinese are helping Nigeria greatly with building infrastructure; it is very much appreciated. We are pleased with the training they are providing for our Ni­gerian students.” President Muhammadu Buhari also met with the executives of China Civil Engineering Con­struction Corporation (CCE­CC) during which he lauded the construction group for their immense contribution to infrastructure develop­ment in Nigeria.

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