President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that the forthcoming elections will hold as scheduled.
The president stated this while receiving the executive members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the State House, Abuja.
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the statement of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday that this year’s general elections faced threat of cancellation and postponement if the waves of insecurity in parts of the country are not addressed.
A source at the meeting said the president assured the clerics that the elections would be conducted as scheduled by INEC.
“The president said the dates for the general elections fixed by the electoral body are sacrosanct and urged that all should support INEC and work towards peaceful, credible and fair elections,” the source said pleading not to be named.
But a statement issued by President Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted him as saying “Boko Haram was fraudulent and a plot to destroy Nigeria.”
He faulted the ideology of the terrorist group which barred people from seeking knowledge thereby affecting the intellectual growth of citizens.
President Buhari said the gains recorded in security would be further consolidated, and more attention would be given to the economy, before handing over on May 29, 2023.
The president said the security situation had improved over the years, particularly in the North East where the focus had shifted to rebuilding infrastructure and re-orientation on education.
“I am very grateful for your visit to the Presidential Villa, and I agree with you on some of the observations you have made. The question of insecurity is most important to us because unless a country or institution is at peace, it will be difficult to manage.
“I just came back from Adamawa and Yobe states. During the visit to both states, I listened carefully to what the people and officials had to say. And they all said the situation had improved since 2015, especially in Borno State.
“Boko Haram was just fraudulent and a plot to destroy Nigeria. You can’t say people should not learn; the people need to grow intellectually,’’ he said.
On the economy, the president said creditors had full confidence in Nigeria, with the capacity to utilise resources and repay loans before the approvals were granted.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation and President of the CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, commended President Buhari for reforms in the electoral system, making it more stable and fair, particularly the signing of the Electoral Bill into law.
“Please do not relent in making sure that INEC and other relevant agencies of government carry out their serious duties to conduct peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections,’’ he said.
Ugorji urged the president to use the remaining months in office as commander-in-chief to tackle insecurity in the country, and improve the economy.
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