Ahead of the 2023 general election, President Muhammadu Buhari has warned foreign bodies not to interfere with the elections.
The president also told those planning to rig the election to perish the idea, vowing to use any legitimate means to defend the mandate and will of the people.
Buhari stated this at an Iftar dinner with members of the Diplomatic Corps at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
He said, ‘‘Those planning to rig the forthcoming elections should think twice because I intend to resolutely protect and defend the sacred will of the Nigerian people, to be expressed through the ballot box.”
Cautioning against foreign interference in the forthcoming elections, Buhari said, ‘‘As you are all aware, the tenure of this administration ends on May 29, 2023. Typical of election years all over the world, the tempo of political activities is often high.
‘‘That is the nature of democracy. I am committed to bequeathing a stronger culture of credible elections to Nigeria than I met.
‘‘As Nigeria goes through this trajectory, I urge our friends in the global community, represented by you the Diplomatic Corps, to adopt a positive role that reinforces the doctrine of respect for our internal affairs and respect for facts and devoid of pre-conceived notions and bias.”
Addressing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Nigerian leader called for greater consideration for humanitarian conditions in the affected areas in the ongoing crisis, warning that the conflict will get worse, if an immediate resolution is not found.
‘‘The war has lasted too long, cost so much and hurt too many people, well beyond the immediate theatres.
‘‘The rest of the world is progressively facing the impact of the conflict and this will certainly get worse, if an immediate resolution is not found, not least in the area of food security.
Buhari welcomed the recent initiative of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, of visiting Moscow and Kyiv, commending his efforts in search of a ceasefire, as a prelude to other enduring solutions.
‘‘The United Nations must continue to actively lead the way for engagements that could ultimately unlock peace through diplomacy,’’ he said.
The president urged the world, especially the Muslim community, to use the solemn and rewarding month of Ramadan, and especially these last days of the fast, to intensify prayers for de-escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and for the return of peace to the world.
He also used the occasion to apprise members of the international community on some of the critical issues that are currently on the front burner of this administration’s agenda and spirited efforts in handling them.
‘‘We continue to make steady progress on the daunting tasks of combating insecurity; fighting corruption; diversifying the economy; promoting good governance; and containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘‘Despite the many challenges we faced, and continue to face, we have instituted measures to plug leakages, improve the economy and enhance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
‘‘These include: Renewal of vital infrastructure, including rail and roads; Implementation of the N2.3trillion Economic Sustainability Plan to create jobs and provide support to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises; and Launch of the National Development Plan (2021-2025) to spur economic growth, leverage science, technology and innovation.
‘‘Other measures include: Establishment of the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on SDGs with the responsibility for ensuring coherence between development policies, plans and strategies.
‘‘Launch, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, of the Nigeria Sustainable Development Goals Implementation Plan (2020-2030), to prioritise and mainstream the SDGs into their medium and long-term development policies and plans.’’
On COVID-19, the president, who restated Nigeria’s demand for vaccine equity and waiver of patents for manufacturing vaccines and approved drugs to treat the highly infectious disease, said the country would continue to expand its capacities for managing the pandemic.
On regional security, the President told the diplomats that the impact of the Libyan crisis on the countries in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, West and Central Africa is still enormous and catastrophic.
He expressed concern on the free circulation of small and light arms in these regions, made worse by the uncontrolled expulsion of foreign fighters from Libya without adequate consultations with the countries of the region.
‘‘The world needs to work together to combat these common challenges and I call on all your respective countries to reflect on this and collaborate with countries in these regions to combat this consequential spread of violence.’’
On the fight against Boko Haram, the President said: ‘‘As you know well, Nigeria has made significant progress in combating the Boko Haram group in the North East.
‘‘We are, however, recently confronted with new tactics deployed by the enemy to threaten our democratic values, as well as the common peace and freedom we enjoy in this country.’’
Commending Nigeria’s defence and security service men and women for their recent successes in routing the terrorists, the president said he was confident that the security situation would soon be brought under control.
He also acknowledged the support of Nigeria’s friends and partners in the global community, particularly the European Union and the United States ‘‘for their understanding, support and agreement to allow us to procure vital equipment and resources to successfully propagate this war.’’
The president added that ‘‘this cooperation and collaboration need to be intensified in spite of other major challenges confronting the international community.’’
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and High Commissioner of Cameroon to Nigeria, Amb. Ibrahima Salaheddine, pledged that the international community would continue to support Nigeria before, during and after the forthcoming general elections.
‘‘As Nigeria enters another electoral year, we pray almighty Allah to put the electoral process under divine guidance for peaceful, free and fair elections,’’ he said.
Salaheddine, who described this year’s Iftah as special, noted that due to COVID-19 the tradition of meeting the President for the breaking of fast did not hold for two years.
He, therefore, congratulated the Nigerian government for curtailing the spread of the pandemic, saying the ‘‘enlightened leadership’’ of Buhari has largely brought its spread in Nigeria under control.
Publish Details Of Parties’ Financial Transactions, SERAP Tasks INEC
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, to publish the reports of parties’ accounts and balance sheets.
The body also wants details of the guidelines and steps being taken to prevent vote buying in the forthcoming elections and to prosecute vote buyers and other electoral offenders.
In a letter, yesterday, SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, noted that citizens have the right to know about the accounts and financial transactions of parties.
He said transparency and accountability would curb the influence of money in politics, promote a level playing field, and remove the risks to the independence of political actors and would-be public office holders.
The organisation insisted it is both immoral and illegal to pay citizens to vote for a particular political party or standard-bearer.
“Unpunished cases of vote buying would continue to undermine good governance, the rule of law, moral values, as well as hinder citizens’ participation in elections”, it said.
SERAP told INEC that when candidates buy votes, there are possibilities that they will disregard for democratic rules.
“Vote buying and related electoral offences encourage poor governance and weaken citizens’ capacity to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.”
SERAP charged the electoral umpire to collaborate with anti-corruption agencies to ensure the effective prosecution of any outstanding cases of vote buying and related electoral offences.
The letter urged INEC to act within 14 days or face legal actions that would compel it to comply with the request.
RSG Recommits To Engaging Youth Positively
The Rivers State Government has said it was committed to engaging youths positively and empowering them.
The State Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this during the opening ceremony of the Uplifting African Youth Through Basketball Programme in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said the issues of youths and young adults were very important to his administration, while expressing delight that youths were being built up with critical life skills in sports, communication, and entrepreneurial leadership skills needed for Rivers State, Nigeria, and Africa.
“This administration is very interested in youth engagements, we want to make sure that our youths are very inclusive, participate, play their roles, and be well mentored and well-motivated to be able to fulfill all of their potentials in life, educationally, in sports, morally and so we are here to support”, the governor stressed.
The governor expressed gratitude to the leader of the Organised Basketball Network (OBN) and his team, for their efforts and the support of the US Consulate, while urging them to visit the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt, to appreciate the efforts of the state government in the area of youth engagement.
The youth friendly governor, said “I want to encourage our youths that as you walk together in the next two days, you would learn how to be tolerant with one another and to know that gender based violence is totally not acceptable and that it is inhumane, I know it is just two days, but a lot can be achieved that can be life time impactful”.
In her remarks, the United States Consulate’s Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Jennifer Foltz said the United States and Nigeria have very special and close relationship, adding that the Consulate feels this was the right time to do a sports programme.
“Sports diplomacy is part of what we do, it is part of some ways we build stronger relationships between our two countries, sports brings people together, and even if you do not speak the same language you can still play sports together”, Foltz stressed.
Earlier, the leader of the Organised Basketball Network, Obinna Ekezie said OBN was a platform founded for the development of grassroots basketball in Nigeria and Africa with a mission to develop the next generation of world-class African student athletes and consistently create opportunities to help them advance their careers overseas, through basketball scholarship.
He said the project uplifting African youths was a project to provide inclusion and opportunities for under privileged talented African youths to learn important life skills through basketball.
PDP Assembly, Reps Candidates Emerge In Rivers
Candidates for the House of Representatives and House of Assembly have emerged following the conduct of primaries by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, yesterday.
According to the official results, Solomon Bob emerged the party’s candidate for Abua/Odual/Ahoada East Federal Constituency while Victor Obuzor emerged the candidate for Ahoada West/Ogba/Egbema Federal Constituency.
Also, Awaji Inombek Abiante won the ticket for Andoni/Opobo Federal Constituency, just as Boma Goodhead returned elected for the Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency while Cyril Godwin Hart won Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency ticket.
The results further show that Felix Nwaeke emerged the candidate of the PDP for Eleme/Tai/Oyigbo Federal Constituency, with Boniface Emerengwa emerging winner for Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency.
In the same vein, Kelechi Nwogu cruised to victory as the candidate for Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency while Dumnamene Dekor won Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency ticket.
Similarly, Kingsley Ogundu Chinda emerged the House of Representatives candidate for Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, while Alabo Victor Tamunomiekaye won Okrika/Ogu/Bolo Federal Constituency ticket.
Chima Boms won Port Harcourt Federal Constituency 2 while Barrister Blessing Amadi is the winner of the primary election for Port HarcourtFederal Constituency 1.
For the Rivers State House of Assembly primary, Hon Dominic Iderima picked the ticket for Abua/Odual, Mrs Queen Williams picked the ticket for Ahoada East 1,Rt Hon Ehe Edison emerged the candidate for Ahoada East 2, while Hon Sokari Goodboy Sokari cruised to victory for Ahoada West.
Hon Major Jack won the ticket for Akuku-Toru 1, Hon Opuende Lolo Isaiah is the candidate for Akuku-Toru 2, Hon Ofiks Kabangs Christopher grabbed the ticket to represent Andoni, whileHon Tekena Wellington Granville got the ticket for Asari-Toru 1.
Also, a serving member, Enemi Alabo George easily won the ticket for Asari-Toru 2, just as Hon Victor Oko Jumbo got the nod to represent Bonny, while Hon Abbey Peter emerged the candidate for Degema.
Hon Igwe Obey Aforji emerged the PDP candidate for Eleme, Emohua will be represented by Mrs Justina Emeji, Hon Onwuka Ignatiuswon the ticket to represent Etche 1, while Hon Chimezie Nwankwor is the candidate for Etche 2.
The present member representing Gokana, Hon Dumle Maol, will retain his ticket for the seat, Prince Lemchi Nyeche emerged the candidate for Ikwerre 1, Mrs Barile Nwakoh won the ticket for Khana1, while Barrister Dinebari Loolo got the ticket for Khana 2.
In Obio/Akpor1, Hon Amaewhule Martin Chike was returned, just as Mrs Emilia Lucky Amadi emerged the candidate for Obio/Akpor 2, and Frankline Nwabochi will fly PDP flag for Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni1.
In the same token, Mrs Nkemuika Ezekwe will fight for Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni2 seat on the platform of the PDP, Davids Arnold Okobiriari won the ticket for Ogu/Bolo, a serving member, Somiari Steward Linda will return in Okrika, while Nwankwo Sylvanus emerged for Omuma seat.
Orubienimigha Adolphus grabbed the ticket for Opobo/Nkoro,Hon Gerald Oforji emerged for Oyigbo, Solomon Wami won the ticket for Port Harcourt1,Hon Tonye Smart Adoki will return for Port Harcourt2, Hon Azeru Opara emerged for Port Harcourt3, and Ngbar Bernard Baridamue won the ticket for Tai.
By: Nelson Chukwudi & Reward Akwu
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