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Buhari knocks INEC over election postponement

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has slammed the Independent National Electoral Commission over the sudden postponement of the general elections slated for February 16 and March 2 saying it was a big disappointment.

Buhari is a statement personally issued by him noted that INEC has been given a free hand to operate and it had kept assuring Nigerians that it was ready for rhe poll only to announce a shift just a few hours to commencement.

Below is the full statement:

 

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT BUHARI ON THE POSTPONEMENT OF GENERAL ELECTIONS BY INEC

I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.

Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.

INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections.  We and all our citizens believed them.

This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.

We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.

While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.

I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.

I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.

 

Muhammadu Buhari

Daura, February 16, 2019

Poll postponement is hand of Esau but voice of Jacob, says Atiku

Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar has appealed to his supporters to remain peaceful following the postponement of the presidential election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced early Saturday morning that it was moving the elections by one week because of logistics.

Atiku, who is flying the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the presidential election, alleged that the shift in date was the handwork of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, employing the biblical expression “hand of Esau, voice of Jacob”.

He said: “As you know, the Independent National Electoral Commission has announced a postponement of the elections until 23 February and 9 March respectively.

“The Buhari administration has had more than enough time and money to prepare for these elections and the Nigerian people were poised and ready to perform their civic responsibility by voting in the elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February, 2019.

“This postponement is obviously a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob. By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turn out is low on the rescheduled date. Nigerians must frustrate their plans by coming out in even greater numbers on Saturday, 23 February and Saturday, 9 March respectively.

“Knowing that the Nigerian people are determined to reject them, they are desperate and will do anything in their power to avoid their rejection by the Nigerian people.

“Their plan is to provoke the public, hoping for a negative reaction, and then use that as an excuse for further anti-democratic acts.”

He asked his supporters to be patient “in the face of provocation”.

Atiku also urged them to come and vote en masse on the new dates.

“I call on all Nigerians to be patient. We have tolerated the maladministration of this government for four years. We can extend our tolerance a few more days and give them our verdict via our votes,” he said.

“Maintain the peace and be law abiding. Do not react to this provocation with anger, violence or any action that might be exploited by those who do not want this election to hold. Remain calm. We will overcome this. You can postpone an election, but you cannot postpone destiny.

“Please come out to vote on Saturday, 23 February and Saturday, 9 March respectively. Frustrate those who do not want this election to hold by coming out in very large numbers. That is the best antidote to their plans.

“May God bless you and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

APC campaign blames PDP for poll shift

The presidential campaign council of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has suggested that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was behind thepostponement of the general electionbecause it was heading for defeat.

Expressing disappointment with the postponement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Festus Keyamo, the spokesman of the council, said PDP social media influencers already knew the elections would be moved before the umpire announced it.

He said every poll had suggested that the PDP would lose.

HERE IS HIS FULL STATEMENT.

We have just received with great disappointment and disillusionment the announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of its decision to postpone the Presidential/National Assembly and Gubernatorial/House of Assembly Elections to Saturday, February 23, 2019 and Saturday, March 9, 2019, respectively.

We condemn and deprecate this tardiness of the electoral umpire in the strongest terms possible. President Muhammadu Buhari had since cooperated fully with INEC by ensuring EVERYTHING it demanded to conduct free and fair elections were promptly made available to it. This news is therefore a huge disappointment to us and to our teeming supporters nationwide and around the world, many of whom have come into the country to exercise their franchise.

We do hope that INEC will remain neutral and impartial in this process as the rumor mill is agog with the suggestion that this postponement has been orchestrated in collusion with the main opposition, the PDP, that was NEVER ready for this election. We note that all the major credible demographic projections have predicted a defeat of the PDP and it seriously needed this breather to orchestrate more devious strategies to try and halt President Buhari’s momentum. It did the same as the ruling Party in 2015, when it realized the game was up, by orchestrating the postponement of the 2015 elections by six weeks. Now, it may be up to its old trick again.

We have earlier raised the alarm that the PDP is bent on discrediting this process the moment it realized it cannot make up the numbers to win this election. We are only urging INEC not collude with the PDP on this. We are truly worried because as early as Friday morning, some known PDP Social Media influencers unwittingly announced this postponement, but quickly deleted the message and apologized to the public that it was fake news. We do not want to be forced to a situation of announcing our total loss of confidence in INEC, because we know where that would leave our democracy.

It is in the light of the above that we wish to appeal to Nigerians and our supporters to be patient, calm and resolute despite this temporary setback. Let us not give anyone, especially the PDP, the opportunity to plunge this nation into a crises, which is what they earnestly desire. Its imminent defeat is just a few days away.

Lastly, we wish to draw the attention of INEC and the world to observe that the PDP has clearly and openly said it plans to announce parallel results through some funny device it has procured or developed. We wish to re-iterate that it is ONLY INEC that is legally and constitutionally empowered to declare results and it constitutes an offence for anyone to do so. We urge INEC to SPEAK UP NOW and warn the PDP to desist from this ignoble act that is capable of plunging the nation into a crises of immeasurable proportions.

PDP asks INEC chairman to resign, accuses APC of ‘grand conspiracy’

Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has asked Mahmood Yakubu to resign as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Speaking through Ike Abonyi, his media aide, shortly after the elections were postponed by INEC, Secondus said his party was rejecting the new dates.

He said it was a “deliberate, pre-determined agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to cling on to power even when it’s obvious to him that Nigerians want him out”.

Secondus said the postponement was part of a “grand design” by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to thwart the will of Nigerians “at all cost”.

He said the APC “in connivance with INEC have been trying all options including but not limited to burning down INEC offices in some states and destroying of electoral materials to create artificial problems upon which to stand for their dubious act”.

“With several of their rigging options failing, they have to force INEC to agree to a shift in the election or a staggered election with flimsy excuses pre-manufactured for the purpose,” he said in the statement.

“For the avoidance of doubt the PDP sees this action as wicked and we are also aware of other dubious designs like the deployment of hooded security operatives who would be ruthless on the people ostensibly to scare them away.”

Secondus said the “wicked killing” of over 60 persons mostly women and children in southern Kaduna on the eve of election “is a copious ploy by the APC to frighten the people away from voting knowing too well that they were not going to record any vote from the area”.

“Recall that the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai had earlier threatened international election observers of going to their country in body bags and with the fatal violence in the state on the eve of election, it’s clear what the motives are, to frighten the observers from the state so that he can carry out his nefarious acts,” he said.

The PDP chairman also drew the attention to the statement of President Muhammadu Buhari that nobody can unseat him from office as an indication of what he wanted to do.

Election postponement: ADC asks Buhari, INEC boss to resign

The National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, Chief Ralphs Nwosu, has called on Nigerians to reject the sit-tight script of the ruling All Progressives Congress, which he said had unfortunately been unveiled with the most irresponsible and scandalous postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections on the day Nigerians had prepared to cast their votes.

Nwosu said, in a statement released, on Saturday, by the National Publicity Secretary of ADC, Yemi Kolapo, that the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission had, until the morning of elections, assured Nigerians that it was fully prepared for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, despite concerns from credible quarters, made the sudden postponement suspicious.

The chairman, therefore, called for the immediate resignation of both the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and President Muhammadu Buhari, who he said, was the author of the script being presented by the former, noting that the flimsy excuse of logistics issues could not have surfaced on the very day of the elections.

He said, “This is a well orchestrated ploy by the APC to rig the elections that they know they will not win, considering Nigerians’ open resentment for the despotic and clueless leadership style of President Muhammadu Buhari and his cohorts, which they have demonstrated at every APC mega rally, even in their strongholds.

“No discerning Nigerian would again trust the perpetrators of this biggest embarrassment in Nigeria’s democratic history to conduct any credible election in Nigeria. The INEC chairman must, therefore, resign immediately and a competent chairman announced with immediate effect. President Buhari must also resign for taking Nigerians for granted and making a mockery of the country’s democracy before Nigerians and the international community.”

According to the party, Nigerians have never had it this bad, as the 2015 postponement by the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration was done two weeks before elections, and when sensitive materials had not been shamefully dispatched as in the case of the present INEC under Buhari.

The National Chairman observed, “One of their strategies is to make the opposition parties spend all their resources, mobilising their agents and officials to travel to their duty posts. As at now, inasmuch as I can only speak for our political party, I can say, authoritatively, that billions of naira have been spent by both the party and our candidates on logistics and agents.

“How can a responsible government wait till when all these have been done to cancel all arrangements and postpone elections? For wasting both the executive/business time and hard earned resources of the opposition and Nigerians, at large, owing to the ruling government’s desperation to cling to power by all means, both the INEC chair and the President are not expected to stay one more minute in office.”

He appealed to members of ADC and its candidates, nationwide, to remain calm as the party continues to struggle with the challenges of nation building.

“As the most trusted and credible option, we ask the Nigerian public not to lose their cool. We’re determined to get this country working, and we will work with other people, who have shown true sense of integrity to achieve this,” the party leader assured.

Nwosu, however, concluded that the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, which had already been achieved without consultation with stakeholders, should not affect the dates of the governorship and state assembly elections, slated for 2nd March, 2019.

“We expect the new INEC, yet-to-be-inaugurated, to go ahead with the governorship and state House of Assembly elections and stop the financial, emotional and psychological drain on candidates, political parties and Nigerians as a whole,” he declared.

He urged Nigerians to condemn the APC’s insult by way of their reaction to the national embarrassment, which blamed the INEC.
“Informed Nigerians know the source of this unprecedented show of shame,” he said.

Nobody will unseat me, says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says nobody can unseat him via the February 16 presidential election.

In a brief interview with CNN, Buhari he is ready to take Nigeria forward over the next four years.

When asked if he feared he could be defeated the way he defeated former president Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari said: “No. Nobody would unseat me. I am ready to take this country forward for the next four years.”

Speaking on the Boko Haram crisis in the northeast, Buhari said: “We have 774 local governments in this country. They used to hold 17. They are not technically holding any local government now.

“But they are indoctrinating young men and women, especially girls, wrap them up with explosives and let them explode them in soft targets like churches, mosques, marketplaces, motor parks and other places.”

 “We are doing our best (to contain the terror) and we thank some foreign countries in Europe and the United States for training our armed forces and going to the battlefront to see how they have performed.”

He said those who said he does not have the stamina to run for a second term can find something else to say, now that he has gone around the country to seek votes.

Many of Buhari’s critics and some of his supporters had called on the president not to run for a second term, following his health challenges.

In 2017, the president was away from Nigeria for a medical leave in the United Kingdom, which lasted over 100 days. Before the long trip, Buhari had initially gone on a medical vacation that lasted 57 days.

Upon his return to Nigeria, Buhari spent at least 50 days away from the public eye, after confirming that he had a blood transfusion, and had never been this sick in his life.

A security source said at the time that his disappearance from office due to rat infestation of his presidential office was a decoy to keep him under medical care.

The president has since recovered and resumed his duties as the commander in chief of the armed forces and the leader of the nation.

Buhari suggested that he has shown his detractors that he has the stamina to run Nigeria for a second democratic term.

When asked about those who say he does not have the stamina to go round all the states for the campaign, Buhari said: “Well, I have done it, so they can give you another answer”.

Buhari visited every geopolitical zone in Nigeria in the build-up to the February 16 election, kicking off his campaign in enemy territory of Akwa Ibom, and ending the same in his home state of Katsina.

US secretary of state calls Atiku, seeks credible elections

Michael Pompeo, the United States secretary of state placed a call to Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Friday.

Atiku disclosed this via his official Twitter handle but did not give details of his conversation with Pompeo.

He, however, said Pompeo affirmed the international community’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.

The presidential and national assembly polls will hold on Saturday, while that of the governorship and state house of assembly will hold on March 2.

“Earlier today I received a call from US Secretary of State, @SecPompeo, who reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to free and fair elections in Nigeria,” he wrote.

“Wishing you all a peaceful elections, wherever you are. God bless Nigeria.”

Atiku Abubakar

@atiku

Earlier today I received a call from US Secretary of State, @SecPompeo, who reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to free and fair elections in Nigeria.

Wishing you all a peaceful elections, wherever you are. God bless Nigeria.

4,534 people are talking about this

There have been speculations that the US is in support of the candidature of Atiku, especially after he visited the country in January, 12 years after being denied visa.

Festus Keyamo, spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari reelection campaign, had accused the US of protecting and seemingly supporting Abubakar.

Keyamo said Stuart Symington, the US ambassador to Nigeria, “seems to be saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election”.

The US has denied the allegation, saying it is not in support of any candidate.

“The United States Embassy in Nigeria wishes to reiterate unequivocally that we are not taking sides in Nigeria’s election. We do not support any party or candidate,” Symington had said in response to Keyamo’s claim.

Aisha Buhari urges Nigerians to vote again for husband

Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari has expressed gratitude to Nigerians for the support they have given to the President in the last four years, saying it is unprecedented.
She expressed delight in the show of love he received wherever he went across the country, especially during the electioneering campaign.
Mrs. Buhari also expressed the hope that Nigerians will vote for her husband en masse to return and continue the good job he is doing.
She used the opportunity to thank officials  and members of the 700-strong Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team for traversing the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. She also thanked wives of governors and elders who were on the advisory council.
Mrs. Buhari is optimistic that the government of President Muhammad Buhari has done a lot in the area of social engineering, infrastructure, and overall development. She cited the effort of government in reducing the gap between the haves and have-nots and the school feeding programme.
She promised that government will continue these good works and introduce many more until Nigeria returns to it’s pride of place in Africa and the global community.

Buhari dissociates FG from ‘body bags’ threat

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the diplomatic community and foreign election observers in Nigeria of their safety during the elections

Many will interpret this as an indirect rebuttal of threats by Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, who recently said “we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags”.

He later said he was defending “Nigeria’s integrity” while Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, said what the governor said was “in the national interest”.

But Buhari, in a state broadcast on Thursday evening, said the foreign community has nothing to fear.

“I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Buhari said.

He reaffirmed the commitment of the federal government “to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere”, adding that “just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates”.

I still hope to be friends with Atiku after we retire him on Saturday —Tinubu

A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, said on Thursday in Lagos that the APC would send the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, into retirement on Saturday for the good of Nigeria.

Tinubu said this in a statement by his Media Officer, Mr. Tunde Rahman.

“This election is more than a contest between two men, President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, for that one exalted chair.

”Look, I have made no attempts to hide my friendship with Atiku. We are friends before this election and hopefully we will be friends after February 16 when he goes into retirement.

”For the good of Nigeria and even the good of Atiku himself, we will do well to send him into retirement on Saturday.

”Perhaps, we should also send Obi into retirement along with his boss come February 16. Perhaps, together, they might manage to discover the place where they might learn compassion for the common man,” he said.

Tinubu said there was not much good that could be found in the policies and programmes announced by the PDP.

“Atiku’s answers to our economic challenges are to shrink and restrain government from being the active catalyst toward a diversified economy that assured broadly-shared prosperity through the just allocation of wealth and reward according to sweat and toil put forth by the Nigerian people.

“They seek an unfair, unjust and unequal Nigeria. Their definition of Nigeria is a nation run by the greedy, for the profit of the rich, at the command of the mighty,” he said.

Tinubu said that the objective of the APC was to remake Nigeria into a great nation.

“Our vision is the opposite of theirs. Unlike the PDP, we, the APC, are anchored to the proposition that every Nigerian is entitled to equal access and sufficient economic opportunity so that he may use his talents, skills and committed exertion to carve for himself and his loved ones the decent and good life every human being seeks.

“The ordinary person is not to be shortchanged of the fair dividends of his honest sweat and diligent labour simply because he may be poor or because the powerful and wealthy want more.

“Because of the APC’s concerns for the struggles of the average person, we launched beneficial social welfare programmes such as the school feeding programme, TraderMoni and N-Power.

“As such, we have made progress caring for our most needy and vulnerable through these and other innovative and unprecedented policies. These programmes are of the type all great nations do for their citizens,” he said.

Tinubu said that the APC was not satisfied by what had been accomplished, saying that what had been done was but the opening phase of a more ambitious undertaking.

“We have just begun to fight poverty and reform this economy on the scale required. Though we have helped millions, several millions more are needed to end poverty’s stranglehold on their lives.

“We must expand the scope and reach of our social welfare programmes to encompass those other people who have been denied access to the productive economy through no fault of their own.

“Additionally, we must put idle hands to work to build a modern infrastructure that will energise agricultural output in rural areas and foster labour-intensive industrialisation in our growing cities, ” he said.

The former governor of Lagos State said that the second term of President Buhari would be dedicated to changing the structure of the economy for the better.

“We must amend our national economic architecture to unlock the full potentials of our people and our land. To me, this is the core mandate of government for and of the people.

“Throughout the campaign, we have talked about taking Nigeria to the Next Level. To me, this Next Level is informed by forging a new partnership between government and the governed to create a more just and prosperous economy for all.

“The beginning of this new partnership is already taking shape. As stated before, we have initiated a first phase of social welfare programmes,” he said.

Tinubu urged the people of South West to join APC in implementing the Next Level agenda.

“The South West has always been at the vanguard of progressive governance in Nigeria. Today should be no exception to this historic role we have played.

“I ask the people of the South West to join the APC so that we attain the Next Level by implementing this bold and good new partnership built on the following pillars: power, infrastructure, housing, industrialisation, agriculture and social security,” he said.

Tinubu said that the coming elections were a choice between progress and retreat.

“The future is uncertain until we enter it. Feb. 16 is Election Day and on that day Nigeria shall step into its future.

“How you vote on that day will determine whether we walk into the future in a manner that guides our subsequent steps toward the national greatness that calls to us or will we walk into it backwards as if feebly trying to reinvent the past.

“One road leads to a certain replay of the economic injustices of the past. It is a road well-worn with familiar pitfalls and setbacks built into the very nature of it.

“The other road provides the truest, brightest chance for us to enter into our hopeful future but only if we are brave enough to believe in our capacity to improve our nation,” he said.

Tinubu urged Nigerians to vote for President Buhari for a secure future.

“This is the future we must enter. This is the future the APC champions. This is future you must choose on Election Day. Vote for yourselves by voting for President Buhari,” he said.

Tinubu urged Nigerians to conduct themselves peacefully before, during and after the elections to ensure a violence-free exercise.

“In the exercise of our civic duty at this historic and important moment, I ask that you conduct yourselves with utmost tolerance and in equal peace towards both political ally and political opponent.

“Let us show the world that we know the true meaning of democracy. On Election Day let not an angry hand be raised against any Nigerian.

“No matter our political differences, let us remember we are of one land and of the same national family.

“This election shall be free and fair and conducted without the arm of violence. For this is as Nigeria and our democratic exercise must be to achieve the excellent destination intended for us.“

(NAN)

Full text of President Buhari’s broadcast

HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S BROADCAST TO THE NATION, FEBRUARY 14, 2019

Fellow Citizens,

On Saturday, February 16, 2019, you will, once again, be called upon to choose the leaders who will pilot the affairs of our great nation for the next four years. This is a constitutional right which should be freely exercised by all eligible voters.

2. I wish therefore to start by assuring all Nigerians that this Government will do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.

3. It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.

4. And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.

5. Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.

6. I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

7. As Government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I therefore urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation.

8. At this point, I want to make a special appeal to our youth: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence and destruction. The people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections.

9. When you elected me in 2015, it was essentially in consequence of my promise of CHANGE. We committed ourselves to improving security across the country, putting the economy on a sound footing and tackling rampant corruption, which had in many ways become a serious drawback to national development.

10. Our Government spent the last 3 years and 9 months striving faithfully to keep this promise, in spite of very serious revenue shortages caused mainly by a sharp drop in international oil prices and an unexpected rise in the vandalisation of oil installations, which, mercifully have now been curtailed.

11. We nevertheless pressed on in our quest to diversify the economy, create jobs, reduce commodity prices and generally improve the standard of living among our people.

12. The damage that insecurity and corruption have done, over time, to our collective livelihood is incalculable. However, it is pleasing to note that our frontal attack on these twin evils is gaining momentum and bringing about visible progress.

13. The recovery of the economy from recession is complete and Nigeria is back on the path of steady growth.

14. The key to creating more jobs lies in accelerating this momentum of economic growth. Happily, we have succeeded in making the fundamental changes necessary for this acceleration, and we are now beginning to see the efforts bearing fruit.

15. Our ease of doing business policies and programmes are already impacting medium, small and micro industries, as well as Manufacturing, Mining and Agriculture, among other key sectors.

16. Our commitment to critical infrastructure – that is Roads, Rails, Bridges, Airports and Seaports – will create more jobs, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of our industries.

17. Many of these projects are at different stages of completion, and those who use them regularly will attest to the fact that even while construction is ongoing, they are beginning to see reduced travel times. This will ultimately translate to reduced costs and greater convenience, making transportation, and business in particular, much easier.

19. The economic recovery that we promised is well underway, as demonstrated by the recently released statistics. In 2018, the economy grew by 1.93%, with the Fourth Quarter growth being 2.38%, up from 1.81% in the Third Quarter.

20. Remarkably, the strong economic performance was driven by the Non-Oil sector, which grew at 2% as at full year. Indeed, Non-Oil growth rose to 2.7% in the Fourth Quarter of 2018, up from 2.32% in the Third Quarter. These results further underscore our commitment to diversifying the economy away from the past dependence on Oil.

21. Other indicators confirm the economy’s steady recovery. Our monthly food import bill has declined from $664 million in January 2015 to $160 million as at October 2018. Inflation fell from 18.72% in January 2017 to 11.44% in December 2018. Our External Reserves have risen from $23 billion in October 2016 to $43.12 billion as at 7th February 2019.

22. Now that the recession is well behind us, our next task is to redouble our efforts, accelerate the growth and use it to create even more jobs for our people.

23. The Executive Orders, No. 5, and No. 7 issued by me, and the recently approved National Infrastructure Maintenance Policy demonstrate our commitment to accelerated job creation and infrastructure development.

24. We believe that Governments cannot simply proclaim jobs into existence. Job creation will only expand as a result of economic policies that enable the private sector to flourish, and this is the approach our Administration has taken.

25. Executive Order No 5, which Promotes Nigerian Content in Contracts, as well as Science, Engineering and Technology, will preserve and prioritize job creation for our citizens.

26. Executive Order 7, on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, seeks to mobilize private capital and capacity for infrastructure development.

27. It responds to the demands of manufacturing and industrial complexes which wish to construct access roads without waiting for government, so long as they are allowed to recover the cost from taxes they would have paid to government.

28. We expect that this approach will boost industrial expansion and rural development, consequently creating more jobs for our people.

29. Similarly, our recently issued Maintenance Policy targets artisans, carpenters, welders, tailors, painters, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, landscapers and many more Ordinary Nigerians at the base of our economic pyramid who will get regular and large-scale opportunities to improve themselves.

30. It is an economic solution that also brings the relevant artisans and professionals into long term sustainable employment to maintain our Schools, Court Rooms, Hospitals, Police Stations, Federal Secretariats and other Public Buildings.

31. Human Capital Development has also been a key priority for this Administration, which has increased investments in health and education. Innovative measures have been introduced to complement the traditional budgetary allocations to the relevant Ministries.

32. For instance, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority has invested US$21 million in three healthcare projects as a Public Private Partnership with three Federal medical institutions. These include two modern Medical Diagnostic Centres located at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia; as well as one outpatient Cancer Treatment Centre in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos – which I commissioned on 9th February 2019.

33. Of course, our radical commitment to developing Critical Infrastructure is the foundation upon which we will deliver an all embracing national prosperity and a shared commonwealth.

34. There is no country that aspires to greatness without spending massively on its Critical Infrastructure. Rather than the discredited policy of ‘stomach infrastructure’, which could only benefit a few for a little while, we are focused on real infrastructural development for the growth of our economy and the long-term benefit of all Nigerians.

35. When you voted for our message of CHANGE, you invited us to assume office and depart from that bad and most regrettable choice. We have responded by making a choice for real infrastructure of Roads in every State, Housing in 34 States, Power Stations across Nigeria, Rail from Lagos to Kano.

36. The choice that now confronts us is whether we want to continue with real infrastructure development, which is the road to prosperity and jobs or return to the era of ‘stomach infrastructure’.

37. Agricultural Self-Reliance and Food Security is also a choice we made in fulfilment of your mandate for change.

38. Our Presidential Fertiliser Initiative has resulted in savings of US$150 million in foreign exchange due to local sourcing of inputs at 16 Blending Plants. It has also conserved N60 billion in Subsidies as well as supported tens of thousands of farmers and agro-dealers nationwide.

39. Our Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has substantially raised local rice yields from as low as two Metric Tonnes per hectare, to as high as eight Metric Tonnes per hectare.

40. Through this programme, the Central Bank of Nigeria has cumulatively lent over N120 billion to over 720,000 smallholder farmers cultivating 12 commodities across the 36 States and Abuja. Targeted crops and livestock have included cattle, poultry, fish, cassava, soybeans, ground nut, ginger, sorghum, rice, wheat, cotton and maize.

41. As a result, we have seen a remarkable rise in the production of key agricultural commodities. I am pleased to note that in major departmental stores and local markets, there has been a surge in the supply of high quality Nigerian agricultural produce.

42. Behind each of these products, are thousands of industrious Nigerians working in factories and farms across the nation. Our interventions have led to improved wealth and job creation for these Nigerians, particularly in our rural communities.

43. Again, these outcomes have been a major departure from the previous focus on consuming imported food items, which literally exported our children’s jobs to food-exporting nations, whilst depleting our precious foreign exchange reserves. This, of course, caused a closure of our factories while keeping open other peoples’ factories.

44. The choice made by this Administration to assist farmers directly and promote agriculture in every way possible has gone a long way to enhance our food security while enabling us to tackle poverty by feeding over nine million children daily under our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. It also puts us clearly on the road to becoming a food secure and agriculture exporting nation.

45. Next to Agriculture, we are focusing on Manufacturing Sector. The Purchasing Managers Index, which is the measure of manufacturing activities in an economy has risen for 22 consecutive months as at January this year, indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector.

46. I will conclude by going back to where I started: that our choices have had consequences about employment and cost of living.

47. In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security, Good Governance and Fighting Corruption.

48. If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice.

49. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity.

50. February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE.

51. The road to greater prosperity for Nigeria may be long, but what you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians.

52. Thank you very much for listening. God bless you, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Jonathan urges Nigerians to turn out massively vote

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has urged Nigerians to come out and vote en masse during Saturday’s presidential election.

Jonathan, who asked citizens to shun violence and hate, said high turn out of voters is the best antidote to rigging.

He appealed to them to peacefully elect the country’s next president.

“My simple message to you is that if you love Nigeria, you must come out to vote,” he wrote on Facebook.

“The best antidote to rigging of elections is a high voter turnout. Remember, none of us is greater than all of us.”

He preached against voter apathy, adding that doing nothing is “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil”.

“As a wise man once said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, he said.

“You are all good Nigerians. I therefore urge you to come out and vote based on your conscience and conviction.”

Jonathan, who was the first Nigerian president to be defeated in an election, said the quest for power is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.

“Now it is your turn to prove that nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any citizen,” he said.

“Shun violence, shun hatred. Come out this Saturday and vote peacefully for the Nigeria of your choice. Remember, we are all brothers and sisters born from the womb of one mother Nigeria.”

The presidential election is holding alongside that of the national assembly on Saturday, while governorship and house of assembly polls will hold on March 2.

There are 73 presidential candidates, with President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seen as the frontline candidates.

INEC can’t take orders from FG, Agbakoba tackles Malami over letter on Zamfara

Olisa Agbakoba, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a neutral body which cannot take orders from the federal government.

Agbakoba said this in reaction to the letter written by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, asking INEC to postpone elections in Zamfara state because of litigation.

The crisis in the Zamfara chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) affected primary elections.

Malami asked INEC to postpone the elections and allow APC prepare for the polls since the courts admitted that primaries were held.

However, Agbakoba said it is only the APC that can make such a request from the electoral body.

He also reminded Malami that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised non-interference in the activities of INEC.

In a letter dated February 14, the senior advocate asked Malami to withdraw his letter, which according to him, undermines the president’s commitment.

“I am shocked by your letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the above subject. You are the Attorney General of the Federation and not the Attorney General of INEC,” Agbakoba said.

“INEC is an independent institution and cannot take directives from the Federal Government. If there is need for the postponement of the Zamfara state elections as indicated in your letter, the proper person to request the postponement is the All the Progressive Congress (APC).

“In any case, Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2010 which your request is based on have nothing to do with postponement of elections.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has at various fora undertaken that the Federal Government will not interfere with INEC. Your letter puts that commitment to question.

“It is my hope that this letter will be immediately withdrawn.”

Agbakoba also wrote Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, asking him to disregard Malami’s letter.

“INEC is an independent institution and should not take directives from the Attorney General of the Federation or the Federal Government,” he told INEC.

“ If there is need for the postponement of the Zamfara state elections, the proper person to request the postponement is the All the Progressive Congress (APC).

“In any case, Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which the Attorney General’s request is based on have nothing to do with postponement of elections.

“INEC should disregard the Attorney General’s letter.”

Postponing Zamfara election is APC’s right not a favour, says Malami

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, says postponing the Zamfara elections is a right of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and not a favour.

Malami said this while responding to the reports on the letter he wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the elections in Zamfara.

In a statement which Salihu Isah, his spokesman, issued on his behalf on Thursday, the attorney-general said he did not ask the commission to postpone the election in the state but only asked INEC to comply with the directive of the appeal court.

Malami said since the court of appeal confirmed that the APC in the state held primary elections, section 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act empowered the commission to postpone the election.

“The attention of the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to a recent publication by certain social media and conventional news outlets stating that this Office had purportedly requested the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the elections in Zamfara State,” the statement read.

“In our letter dated February 13, 2019 addressed to the INEC Chairman, the Honourable Attorney of the Federation in reacting to a petition from M.A Mahmud informing this Office of the subsisting Court of Appeal decision in CA/S/22/2019 which effectively upheld the APC primaries in Zamfara state, wrote to INEC informing them of this development and requested the Commission to comply by extending the time within which the political party candidate in the Gubernatorial elections.

“In view of the fact, now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the primaries as valid, the APC in Zamfara State will need a little time to catch up with its contemporaries in the election.

“Granting them this concession is not necessarily a favour but a right that inures to all contestants under similar circumstances.

“Consequent on the above, INEC is invited to comply with the judgement of the Court of Appeal by admitting the results of the APC Zamfara State Primaries and to also comply with the provisions of Section38 of the Electoral Act which empowers INEC to postpone the election for the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly Elections.”

Ogun violence: Amosun kicks as APC threatens to punish him after polls

The All Progressives Congress has vowed to punish the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, for allegedly instigating thugs that attacked the leaders of the party, including the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, at the presidential rally in Abeokuta on Monday.

The crowd at the rally pelted Oshiomhole with stones and water sachets when he introduced Dapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate of the APC in Ogun State.

Other leaders of the party, including Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, were booed at the campaign, which was marred by violence involving the APC and the Allied Peoples Movement’s supporters.

The spokesman for the APC Caretaker Committee in the state, Mr Tunde Oladunjoye, had on Monday alleged that the hoodlums who disrupted the rally were sponsored by Amosun.

Expressing regrets at the disruption of the campaign, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement on Tuesday said those responsible for the “premeditated attacks” would be dealt with.

The party said the sanction would be delayed till after the elections.

The statement said, “This is one act of indiscipline too many. The APC will not condone acts of indiscipline, indiscretion and anti-party activities from any party member no matter how highly placed.

“The party will review this gross misconduct of deliberately positioning thugs to attack and embarrass the President and the party leadership. The party will take a decision on this matter immediately after the elections.

“It must be stated that party supremacy and discipline, according to our constitution, are not matters of choice but binding principles which must be adhered to by all party members.

“The APC is a party known for discipline, justice, fairness and equality hence any plan to destroy what this party stands for would be rejected. No single person will be allowed to put his personal and selfish interest ahead of the wishes of the people of Ogun State and elsewhere.”

The APC said the decision of the National Working Committee on post-primaries remained unbendable.

“Post-primaries, the decision of the National Working Committee to uphold the wishes of party members is unbendable. Therefore, whatever means being presently deployed by persons intending to undermine the wishes of the people for personal gains will not be tolerated.

“We urge our teeming party supporters and members not to be disturbed by Monday’s condemnable incident. We urge all to continue trooping out en masse for our remaining campaigns and vote massively for all and only the APC candidates in the forthcoming general elections,” the statement added.

Although Issa-Onilu did not mention the governor’s name in the statement, the Publicity Secretary of the pro-Amosun APC faction in the state, Wole Elegbede, when contacted on the telephone, described the threat by the national leaders of the party as a media trial and jungle justice.

Elegbede, who spoke with one of our correspondents,said, “It is common for the National Working Committee of the party to subject members of the APC in Ogun State to media trial and jungle justice.”

He added, “The dissolution of the APC executive in the state was done without inviting us to face any disciplinary committee in accordance with the constitution of the party. They just announced the dissolution in the media. That is nothing but media trial and jungle justice. They have started again. This issue of disciplining the governor of Ogun State will end up the same way. We believe that it will end up the same way: Jungle justice and media trial.”

He also blamed the national leadership for the protests and the disruption of the rally.

He said, “The APC, Ogun State chapter under the leadership of Chief Derin Adebiyi, will not like to reply anyone. But what happened involved the APC supporters in the state. Some supporters are aggrieved over the emergence of Dapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate, while some like it.

“But our APC supporters are happy with President Muhammadu Buhari and are ready to vote for him in the forthcoming election.

“As you can see, all the APC supporters agree to vote for Buhari, What really happened could be traced to the emergence of Dapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate.”

When asked whether his faction of the APC was happy with the development or not, he said, “No dedicated member of the party will be happy at such development. What happened was caused by the leadership at the national level.

“What happened was not planned by anybody. It was not planned by the governor, and it was just a spontaneous reaction from aggrieved members who do not like the emergence of Dapo Abiodun.”

Meanwhile, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has called on electorate in the state to ignore Amosun’s comment that they should not vote for APC’s candidates except President Buhari.

Osinbajo, who did not mention Amosun’s name, described those who promote other parties while still claiming to be members of the APC as “bad cutlasses.”

The Vice-President spoke in Yoruba language during a town hall meeting held at the palace of the Ebunmawe of Ago Iwoye in Ijebu North Local Government Area, Oba Abdulrazak Adenugba.

Osinbajo also reiterated same while speaking with some traders at Olabisi Onabanjo Market, Ota Osun in Ijebu Ode.

The town hall meeting was held on the sidelines of a door-to- door presidential campaign held in Ogun East Senatorial District.

The Vice-President later solicited votes from the residents of Ijebu, explaining that only the APC meant well for the people.

Osinbajo said, “Vote for the APC alone in all the elective offices because, we don’t know of those who are meddling or promoting another party because any one caught in such act can be described as a bad cutlass.

“Vote for the APC alone in all elective offices, Remember that ‘ Oju kan ladani , ada toba loju meji tidii adakada’ (a cutlass has only one sharp edge. Anything short of that makes such a cutlass a bad one).

“You need to vote for the APC because, even, the most hardened enemy of President Muhammadu Buhari knows that he is not a thief nor is he corrupt. And secondly, you have to vote for us because of the many things that we have in store for you.”

Those things, he said, included “the N -Power scheme which presently has a capacity of 500 in this area and this will be increased to 1,500 when we win the coming election.”

“Another is the ‘tradermoni’ and market money scheme which is targeted at empowering traders and whenever you pay back the money given to you, another will be given to you.

“Another is employment for the youth which is as well very important among others.”

The PUNCH

 

JUST IN: PDP sues INEC for insisting on card readers

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the use of card readers for the general election.

In a suit filed before the federal high court in Abuja, the party asked the court to restrict INEC from postponing elections in any polling unit as a result of a malfunctioning card reader.

INEC had said elections in the case where a smart card reader malfunctions, voting will be suspended till a new card reader arrives, or postponed till the next day if a replacement is not available by 2pm.

In the suit dated February 11 a copy of which was sent to TheCable, the party argued that INEC’s insistence — in its regulations and guidelines for the conduct of the elections — that a voter’s identity must be confirmed by the card reader is inconsistent with provisions of the electoral act.

The paragraph states: “10. (a) In accordance with Section 49 (2) of the Electoral Act, a person intending to vote shall be verified to be the same person on the Register of Voters by use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) in the manner prescribed in these Regulations and Guidelines.

“(b) Any poll official who violates the provision of Clause 10 (a) shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to prosecution.”

The party said this particular regulation does not align with section 49 of the electoral act. The section states: “(1) A person intending to vote with his voter’s card, shall present Issue of ballot papers himself to a Presiding Officer at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered with his voter’s card.

 

Atiku says ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian

Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says his ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.

Speaking at the signing of the national peace accord ahead of the February 16 presidential election, the former vice-president called on security agencies not to arrest opposition leaders 24 to 48 hours before the election.

“May I use this opportunity to renew my profound gratitude, firstly to my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and then to General Abdulsalami Abubakar and members of the Peace Committee for their tireless enthusiasm, dedication, and passion towards ensuring the success of this Peace Accord Process,” he said.

“Our gathering here today clearly demonstrates the importance of the upcoming elections as well as how our democracy has matured, not only to our people, but also to the international community whose solidarity, Nigeria’s democracy has benefited from.

“As we prepare to sign off on this Peace Accord, as representatives of our party and people, may I freely quote the words of former President Goodluck Jonathan, which remains a benchmark, for me, taking into account the deep feelings that prevail as February 16th, 2019, approaches: ‘My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian’.”

Atiku called on officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission to remain neutral.

“In this context, I appeal once again to every staff and the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police Force, to be fair arbiters in the upcoming elections while letting neutrality prevail.

“For emphasis and in the spirit of fair play, I also urge our security agencies, not to embark on indiscriminate arrests of members of the opposition, 24 to 48 hours before elections, as has been the case in previous elections.

“Hopefully, our democracy should emerge stronger from this process with the 2019 elections proving better managed than the 2015 process, which was adjudged free and fair with the then opposition’s victory unobstructed

“Consequently, I also appeal to the President, General Buhari, to use his good office to ensure that every eligible person who casts their vote is confident in the process and in the belief that their vote will count.

“Additionally, every candidate must remember that this election is about the future of Nigeria, therefore, we must abide by the will of the people as freely expressed through elections, under the terms of our constitution.

“Once again, despite concerns expressed by my party leaders concerning likely electoral malpractices and the intimidation of voters and observers, I trust that our election officials and security services will do their duty in accordance with their oath and obligations.

“In conclusion, I appeal once again, to our citizens, to go out and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice, to be peaceful at all times, and confident in our democracy, its institutions and processes.

“So, please go out this Saturday to vote for your future and the future of our great nation. May God bless you and God bless Nigeria”.

Niger Delta militants endorse Buhari

Militants and ex-militants in the Niger Delta region have endorsed the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.

They announced this at the end of a workshop in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital, on Wednesday.

The militants said they believe that the interest of the region would be well served under Buhari.

“The Niger Delta is the most important region of Nigeria and also produces over 2 million barrels of oil daily which is the economic bedrock of the country which therefore makes peace a pre-requisite for that sustainable development of the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole,” they said in a statement issued after the meeting.

“Participants agreed and that the overall interest of the Niger Delta should be the guarding principle of all political considerations in the run-up to the 2019 presidential elections.

“Participants observed that since politics is a game of interest, and having realised that the interest of the Niger Delta would be better served by the incumbent president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.

“Participants also considered other presidential candidates in the 2019 presidential elections and unanimously endorsed Muhammadu Buhari in the February 16, presidential elections and urged all leaders and ex-agitators to vote en-mass for him.

“Participants also agreed and resolved to pursue peace during and after the elections and also assist all relevant security agencies to achieve and maintain peace in the region.”

Ebikabowei Ben, a militant leader better known as Boyloaf, was nominated to engage directly with Buhari after the elections “with a view of pursing the collective interest of all ex-agitators and the Niger Delta as a whole”.

We’re not supporting any candidate, US ambassador replies Keyamo

The United States says it is not supporting any candidate for the February 16 presidential election in Nigeria.

Dismissing news and perceptions of partisanship, the US embassy in Nigeria released a statement to say the country’s over $1 billion aid to Nigeria will continue, no matter who wins the elections on Saturday.

Earlier, Festus Keyamo, spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari reelection campaign, said the United States has displayed its double standard for the world to see, by protecting and seemingly supporting Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Keyamo said that Stuart Symington, the US ambassador to Nigeria, “seems to be saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election”.

But in a message from Symington on Tuesday, the US envoy stated categorically that his country was not backing any candidate at all, adding that his country supports a level playing field.

“The United States Embassy in Nigeria wishes to reiterate unequivocally that we are not taking sides in Nigeria’s election.   We do not support any party or candidate,” the statement read.

“We support a level playing field and the democratic process.  That is the bedrock principle of our Government’s advocacy on democratic elections.

“In the final run-up to the Feb. 16 vote, fake news and rumours are operating in overdrive.   But it must be repeated:  we are not taking sides.

“This is Nigeria’s election and the citizens of Nigeria will decide who will lead their nation. It is important for the future of every Nigerian and it is important that every Nigerian contribute to making it a democratic, peaceful, free and fair process.

“This will ensure that all Nigerians see the results as credible, and they accept them. This will empower Nigeria’s democracy going forward, as did the elections of 2015.

The US stated that no matter who wins the election, its contributions to Nigeria will remain, stating that America is an enduring friend of Nigeria.

“The United States is Nigeria’s long-term and enduring friend.   We provide more than $1 billion in assistance and help save more than 2 million lives of Nigerians each year through our health and humanitarian assistance.   This will not change.   We are Nigeria’s good partner, and this will continue after this democratic election – no matter who wins.

“This election is Nigeria’s, but it is also important for Nigeria’s neighbours and for the world.  Nigeria has long played a great leadership role in the region and beyond as a force for democratic stability.

“The credible electoral results of 2015 empowered Nigeria to play that role. The United States looks forward to a similar result this week.

“We support the democratic process and the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission in managing the elections.  We call on every Nigerian citizen, official, party member, and the security forces to peacefully support Nigeria’s democratic process in accordance with Nigerian law.

“The United States welcomed the signing of Peace Accords by the candidates for President and other offices.  Now is the time to grow that peace by ensuring all get the message and put it into action so that both the voting and the aftermath are peaceful and fully respect the democratic process.

“Peace benefits all Nigerians and peace is the responsibility of every citizen as you work together to ensure your elections are free, fair, transparent, and credible.”

You can use any finger to vote — INEC clarifies index finger rumours

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says any of the ten fingers — not only the index — can be used for marking the ballot papers when voting.

The electoral body said it got wind of “false reports” that the only the index finger is approved for marking the ballot papers.

It described the rumour as “false”, saying any of the fingers can be used, as long as it does not spill ink beyond the box meant for a party.

“INEC’s attention has been drawn to a fake news making rounds that the index finger is the only finger approved for marking a ballot paper. THIS IS FALSE,” INEC said.

“At the point of registration, all ten fingers were captured. So any finger can be used for marking a ballot paper.

“Make sure that your mark is inside the box of your party of choice and does not stray into another box.”

Meanwhile, Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had told supporters on Saturday during the party’s presidential mega rally in Lagos to use their index fingers to vote.

He had cautioned the people against using their thumbs, warning that the ink may spill over and cause their votes to be void.

“To print seventy something ballot, you know the space will now become small, so don’t use this thumb. Use this finger, index finger. Use the finger you use to lick soup,” Tinubu had said.

“Go to that ink, and go to that space and put it, blow it. Look for broom symbol o, don’t put it on top of the broom. That will be a void vote.

“Put it in that small space and leave and standby until they count your vote. Because if you use your thumb finger, it will spill over to another line. They said they will void the vote. If you use too much ink, a blot to another party creates a problem.”

On Monday, INEC released the sample of the ballot papers to be used in the presidential election on Saturday.