President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja advised Nigerians to see the forthcoming general election as an opportunity to strengthen the country’s unity.
Buhari gave the advice in a speech shortly after signing the second National Peace Accord alongside other presidential candidates, including Abubakar Atiku of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While calling on Nigerians to come out massively to cast their votes, Buhari advised all stakeholders to put national interest above all other considerations.
“The elections are important only to the extent that they make the country peaceful and prepare us for development. I am making a special appeal to our young people: do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence.
“Please eschew all forms of violence and cooperate with all the relevant agencies during the election.
“We will vote according to parties, but at the end the only real party is Nigeria, our country.
“Our elections are important only to the extent that they make us strong. Let’s us do our best and ask God to bless us and our country,’’ he said.
Buhari, who is the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had been given adequate resources to conduct the election.
He also said that the various security agencies had been fully briefed on their roles and responsibilities to ensure that the exercise is successful.
Earlier, Atiku urged the leadership and staff of INEC, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to be fair arbiters in the general election by being neutral.
He urged the security agencies to demonstrate fair play by not embarking on “indiscriminate arrest of members of the opposition or their supporters’’ before the election.
“Hopefully, our democracy should emerge stronger in this process with the 2019 general election proving better managed than the 2015 process, which was adjudged free and fair with the opposition’s victory unobstructed.
“I also appeal to Buhari to use his good office to ensure that every eligible person who cast his vote is confident in the process, and in the belief that his vote will count,’’ he said.
Atiku also reminded other candidates that the election is about the country’s future, and so must abide by the will of Nigerians.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the accord was at the instance of the National Peace Committee chaired by former Military Head of State, Retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The signing was witnessed by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, and Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Mathew Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Dioceses, and other members of the National Peace Committee (NPC), were also in attendance.