As Nigeria marks Democracy Day less than a year to the general election, President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday reassured Nigerians and 14 presidential candidates that he would ensure a free, fair and transparent electoral process.
The president stated this in a nationwide broadcast on Sunday as part of the activities to mark the 2022 Democracy Day in Abuja,
June 12 of every year was declared Democracy Day to mark the military’s annulment of the June 12, 1993 general election which was won by late business magnate Moshood Abiola.
The annulment of the election by former military leader Ibrahim Babangida resulted in an uproar and ethnic sentiments that almost ended the continued existence of a united Nigeria.
Normal democratic elections were restored in 1999 after a negotiated electoral process which saw the emergence of Mr Olusegun Obasanjo as president to placate the Yoruba people of south west Nigeria.
The presidential candidates to beat in the February 2023 general elections are Mr Bola Tinubu, 70, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Atiku Abubakar, 75, of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and 64-year-old Peter Obi of Labour Party.
As Nigerians upgrade their voter cards for the sixth general election, President Buhari said: “I am pleading with all citizens to come together and work with the government to build a peaceful and prosperous nation.”
Security structure reformed
Mr Buhari also expressed commitment to protect Nigeria and Nigerians from all enemies from within and outside and revealed that the federal government had reformed the nation’s security structure with the hope of achieving the desired goals.
"I know many of us are concerned with the rise in insecurity due to terrorist activities in parts of the country. As a government, we are working hard to contain and address these challenges and ensure that the 2023 general elections are safe and secure for all Nigerians.
"To achieve this, however, we must all contribute. It is not the job of the government alone. 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,” he said.
President Buhari called on citizens to offer special prayers for all victims of terrorist activities across the country.
“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,” said President Buhari.
Track criminal elements
He further disclosed that the nation’s cyber security and surveillance systems had been upgraded to further enhance the ability to track and trace criminal elements across the country.
“We have reformed some of our security structures. Some of the defence assets we procured three years ago have arrived and have been deployed. Our cyber security and surveillance systems are being upgraded to further enhance our ability to track and trace criminal elements,” he said.
The Nigerian president announced that the government had also embarked on recruiting and training new personnel across all the nation’s security and intelligence agencies to strengthen overall security.
On those who lost their lives as a result of the daredevil activities of terrorists and other criminals, the president pledged that his administration will continue to seek justice for their families.
"For those currently in captivity, we will not stop until they are freed and their kidnappers brought to justice. If we all unite, we will be victorious against these agents of terror and destruction,” the president said.