The The president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.), has described 2023 as an important year for Nigeria, being an election year that will also see the transition to another government.
In his New Year Message released on Saturday, the president also made a personal commitment to ensure that the elections were free and fair, noting that Nigerians would decide their next leaders. He said Nigerians should resist being used by politicians to cause riots and that there would be consequences for any breach of peace during the elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission has set February 25 for the presidential and National Assembly elections, while gubernatorial and state Assembly elections are scheduled for March 11.
In the message, which he described as a farewell, the president declared: “After having the honor of serving you, my countrymen, for the past seven years, my term as your president in the most revered tradition of our ongoing and maturing democracy. must necessarily come to an end.
“In the next five months, we would have gone to the polls and elected a new president along with new governors and a plethora of other elected officials at both the national and state levels. All these electoral and democratic principles are working together because of the transcendent beliefs, beyond partisan politics, of you, the great citizens of Nigeria.
“In addition, my personal commitment and executive promise to ensure that the 2023 elections, which are diligently conducted by INEC, are free and fair. The collective electoral will and the votes of Nigerians will be fulfilled, even in the twilight moments of my turn.”
“In the year 2023, Nigerians go to the polls to exercise our right to vote and elect a new administration. This is an important year for our country to ensure that we have another smooth transition of government, to whomever the people have decided. This administration’s historic Election Amendment Act will ensure that we have free and fair elections across the country.”
He called on Nigerians to take responsibility for ensuring that the elections are free and fair by not getting involved and avoiding acts that could affect the polls. “We must also resist all attempts to be used by politicians to riot in any way to disrupt the election. We as a government will ensure that such activities are carried out to the full force of the law,” he added.
Buhari called on Nigerians to help security agencies with intelligence, noting that security is a collective responsibility. He said that with the successes in the northeast, internally displaced people were being resettled in their homes while progress was being made in the northwest and other regions. He added that the police reform program based on a new presidential vision for the police in Nigeria was underway.
As for the economy, the president said his regime focused on building on the Gross Domestic Product and sustaining the huge increase in non-oil GDP growth. He promised the nationwide implementation of the Start-up Law, which he said would boost job creation and reduce unemployment since youth are the country’s most valuable natural resource.
He added: “The year 2023 would indeed be a time when we would work to solidify ourselves in delivering key strategic priorities under our SEA (Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption) Agenda. Our security forces are working in partnership to ensure that the victories we have won in the war against insurgency, banditry, secession and other crimes are sustained and more victories are won.
“For the economy, the ongoing infrastructure revolution by our administration will see us deliver key projects across the country in power, rail, highway, ports and technology. We as a government are committed to ridding our nation of all forms of corruption, through collaboration with all arms of government to carry out this fight effectively.”
While expressing his congratulations, the president said, “I welcome and accept both praise and criticism in equal measure assured in the conviction that I did my best to serve our beloved country Nigeria and I pray that the next president will also take the baton and continue the race to make Nigeria one of the world’s leading countries by the end of this century.”
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council has praised the President for laying a solid foundation on which his presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, can build.
In a statement, PCC Director of Media and Publicity Bayo Onanuga, APC-PCC, said: “It’s like building a runway, a solid concrete foundation.
“The next APC administration under the leadership of Asiwaju Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, when elected, out of the goodwill of Nigerians, will place an aircraft on the runway already built by President Buhari that will take us at supersonic speed to our destiny. The world will see Nigeria fly higher and higher.”