President Muhammadu Buhari has urged candidates contesting elections at all levels to respect voters’ choice and accept the result of the elections as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
On Wednesday, the president made the call while witnessing the signing of the second Peace Accord for the 2023 presidential election at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Mr Buhari reminded the political class and their supporters that INEC is the agency empowered by law to announce the results.
“Any aggrieved candidate should resort to the established judicial processes, and we must have the confidence to trust our legal systems. I once again ask the candidates to abide by the spirit and letter of the accord they have signed today,” he explained. “Let me remind all Nigerians, not for the first time, that this is the only country we have, and we must do everything to keep it safe, united and peaceful.”
Mr Buhari added, “There should be no riots or acts of violence after the announcement of the election results. All grievances, personal or institutional, should be channelled to the relevant courts.”
The president acknowledged that concerns had been raised about the conduct of the 2023 general elections and the outcomes they may throw up. He, however, assured Nigerians that his administration would continue to do the utmost to deliver a free and fair election.
“Since my assumption of office, we have worked so hard to ensure that we pass on a legacy of free, fair, credible, safe and peaceful elections. We will continue to act with neutrality and allow the rule of law to take precedence over political expediency,” said the Nigerian leader, citing the off-cycle elections in Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun as his accomplishments.
“We allowed Nigerians to decide who should govern them. We are committed to that legacy in this administration,” he stated.
The president, therefore, assured INEC, security agencies, and all relevant institutions saddled with the responsibility of conducting the elections of his administration’s continuous support, asking them to be firm and courageous, abiding by the laws and constitutional provisions in conducting the elections.
“We must constantly improve our electoral process using technology and all the positive elements it brings to consolidate the integrity of the elections,” he said.
Mr Buhari commended the chairman and members of the National Peace Committee, led by the former military head of state Abdulsalami Abubakar.
He recalled that last September, Mr Abubakar asked him to deliver a goodwill message in support of issue-based and peaceful campaigns and political rallies devoid of insults and personal attacks.
“I readily agreed because this is my personal belief and conviction: that we need to dwell more on issues that are fundamental to Nigerians. Despite having no financial support from the government, the Peace Committee has remained steadfast, working with relevant agencies to provide moral compass and serve as an independent agency for alternative dispute resolution on the electoral process,” the president explained.