President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja Friday said as the leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, he would not escape taking responsibility for the loss of Edo State in the just concluded governorship election by his party to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
President Buhari also said that his single desire was to make sure that innocent people didn’t suffer, hence, he sent a message across to the Inspector General of Police, that elections must be free and fair.
He further said that it was the decision of contestants in elections with stupendous money to spray it if they so desired, but warned that nobody should raise a counter force to the government and arm thugs who would be under the influence of drugs to humiliate people.
This is as the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has ruled out the possibility of him returning to the APC, saying that it would be immoral and lack of integrity to do so.
Recall that Governor Obaseki, who was disqualified by the APC to contest the party’s primary, decamped to the PDP and was declared winner of the September 19, election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Speaking when the Governor led his Deputy, Comrade Philip Shuaibu and other party supporters to the State House on a thank-you-visit to him, the President said he would want Nigerians to appreciate that he respect them as Nigerians and was bound by the oath he took, that their security was in the hands of God and in the hands of the government he is leading.
According to him, “I thank you for bringing your deputy and supporters to come and see me after beating my party. I am supposed to preside over all Nigerian interests whether I like it or not, but my single desire is to make sure that innocent people don’t suffer. That message I got across to the Inspector General of Police, that elections must be free and fair.
“If contestants have too much money and they decide to spray, so be it. But what I insist is, nobody should go and raise a counter force to the government, arm heavily-drugged thugs to go and humiliate people.”
He told his guests that, “I want Nigerians to appreciate that I respect them as Nigerians and that I am bound by the oath I have taken, that their security is in the hands of God and in the hands of the government, which I am leading.”
President Buhari noted that as the leader of the governing party, and despite the fact that the party has lost some states in elections, he wishes to leave behind a political culture based on integrity.
He said, “We have lost states across the country. Now I do not like to escape the responsibility, seeing as the leader of the country, I am also the leader of my party, that I am not leading the party very well.
“I am trying to make sure that the party is built on a civilised basis, rule of law and respect for human rights and human beings, right from polling units to local governments, to states up to Abuja and that’s what I have been insisting as my contribution to the National Working Committee and executive of the party.
“I know we are a developing country, a developing economy and trying to develop our political culture. I want the development of political culture to be based on integrity and accountability. Let people work very hard and earn what they are looking for through their hard work and through fair competition.”
He added jocularly that he was congratulating the Edo governor “reluctantly” because he defeated the candidate of his party, the All Progressives Congress.
In his remarks, Governor Obaseki thanked the President for ensuring that fair play reigned during the election which saw him victorious.
“You would recall a couple of weeks before the election, I came to see you and you assured me that we were going to have a free, peaceful and credible election. That is what we had during the election of 19th September and the whole world has acclaimed that Edo election was perhaps one of the best conducted in recent times in Nigeria. This could not have been possible without your insistence that the right things be done, and for that, we want to say thank you very much.”
He also thanked the President for his congratulatory message, assuring him that the message “has been internalised, that it is God that made this election possible, therefore I should be humble about the election and also magnanimous in victory.”
He pledged his unalloyed loyalty and support and that of the people of Edo State to the President and the federal government.
Speaking in an interview with State House correspondents, Governor Obaseki said he would lose his integrity if he returns to the APC, adding that leaving the PDP for the APC goes against Buhari’s gospel of integrity.
He said. “This morning (Friday) we were privileged to meet with the President, essentially to express the gratitude of Edo People, myself and my deputy for the role for the conduct of gubernatorial elections in Edo State. He insisted that Nigeria should have proper elections, credible elections, free and fair elections and that is what happened.
“So, this morning we are here in the Villa to show our profound gratitude and appreciation for this, which on the surface will look normal but the implications are very far reaching. Because this is a sitting president whose party’s was contesting an election and insisted that the right thing be done and a level playing field be created for contestants.