President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed that he is in pains and agony perpetually on account of the security challenge in the country.Buhari, in a national broadcast this morning to mark Democracy Day, says he lives “daily with grief and agony for victims and prisoners of terrorism.”
Buhari, speaking on the commemoration of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola but which was annulled by the Babangida military regime.
He, however, describes this year’s Democracy Day, as his last as president, adding that he is optimistic that signals ahead of next year’s election look positive on the strength of the recent peaceful conduct of primaries by the parties.
The President urges all Nigerians to work together to ensure the success of the coming transition “in honour and memory of one of our national heroes for democracy, Chief M.K.O Abiola, GCFR.”
Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Labour Party (LP) standard bearer, Mr. Peter Obi, all pledged their commitment to the ideals of democracy ahead of the 2023 elections.
Recalling the circumstances of the 1993 annulled election, Buhari said:“On June 12th 1993, Nigerians saw the best in our citizens as we all went out to vote peacefully. By June 24th, 1993, we also saw the worst of our leadership as the elections were annulled.
“We must never forget the sacrifices of the heroes of Nigeria’s democracy during 1993. Their patriotism and peaceful struggle should guide our actions, especially when it comes to electing our leaders and holding them accountable now and in future.
“This is my last Democracy Day speech as your President. By June 12th, 2023, exactly one year from today, you will already have a new President. I remain committed and determined to ensure that the new President is elected through a peaceful and transparent process.
“It is important for all of us to remember that June 12th, 2023 will be exactly 30 years from the 1993 Presidential elections. In honour and memory of one of our national heroes for democracy, Chief M.K.O Abiola, GCFR, we must all work together to ensure this transition is done in a peaceful manner.
“I am hopeful that we can achieve this. The signs so far are positive. Recently, all registered political parties conducted primaries to select their candidates for the 2023 general elections.
“These primaries were peaceful and orderly. Those who won were magnanimous in their victories. Those who lost were gracious in defeat. And those aggrieved opted to seek judicial justice as opposed to jungle justice.
“I followed the party primaries closely from the state level to the Presidential level. I was very impressed to see across all the political parties that, most candidates ran issued based campaigns. The language and tone throughout were on the whole measured and controlled.
“As we move into the general election campaign season, we must sustain this mature attitude to campaigning and ultimately, voting. We must never see it as a ‘do or die’ affair. We must all remember democracy is about the will of the majority. There must be winners and losers.”
Buhari asked all candidates in next year’s polls to “continue running issue focused campaigns and to treat opponents with dignity. As leaders, you must all showcase high character and never forget that the world is watching us and Africa looks up to Nigeria to provide example in governance. The tone you set at the top will surely be replicated in your followers.”
Buhari promised Nigerians that their right to choose their government “will be preserved and protected” while efforts were being made to make the elections safe and secure for all Nigerians.Continuing, he said:“I ask all citizens to support and cooperate with our security agencies by reporting any suspicious characters and activities to law enforcement agencies. We can only have a safe country if we are able to prevent crime not after the crime has been committed.
“On this special day, I want us all to put all victims of terrorist activities in our thoughts and prayers. I am living daily with the grief and worry for all those victims and prisoners of terrorism and kidnapping. I and the security agencies are doing all we can to free those unfortunate countrymen and countrywomen safely.
“For those who have lost their lives, we will continue to seek justice for their families against the perpetrators. For those currently in captivity, we will not stop until they are freed, and their kidnappers are brought to justice. If we all unite, we will be victorious against these agents of terror and destruction.”