President Muhammadu Buhari has urged presidential candidates and others to run issue-based campaigns free of hate speeches and other divisive rhetoric.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (APC), Atiku Abubakar (PDP), Peter Obi (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (NNPP) are the leading contenders for the 2023 presidency.
In his Independence Day speech, Buhari also stated that no matter how much progress his administration has made, it will not be enough unless there is a good governance system based on electing credible leaders through free, fair, credible, and transparent elections.
He stated that it was for this reason that he resolved to leave a lasting democratic culture, adding that the signing of the Electoral Act 2021 as amended with landmark provisions further assured his administration of a more transparent and inclusive Electoral Process.
“Having witnessed at close quarters, the pains, anguish and disappointment of being a victim of an unfair electoral process, the pursuit of an electoral system and processes that guarantee election of leaders by citizens remains the guiding light as I prepare to wind down our administration.
“You would all agree that the recent elections in the past two years in some states (notably Anambra, Ekiti and Osun) and a few federal constituencies have shown a high degree of credibility, transparency and freedom of choice with the people’s votes actually counting. This I promise would be improved upon as we move towards the 2023 General Elections.
“As we begin the transition process to another democratically elected government, I want to implore all aspirants to conduct issues-based campaigns devoid of hate speeches as well as other negative and divisive tendencies.
“I also want to express my wish that we see more female and youth participation in the forth-coming electoral cycle. I am sure that our teeming and energetic youths now realise that violence generally mar elections and so should desist from being used by politicians for this purpose,” he said.
On the international front, Buhari stated that his administration had continued to take advantage of bilateral and multilateral platforms to explore cooperation with friendly countries and partners whenever these areas of cooperation were to the advantage of Nigeria.
He added that in the past few years, the nation had witnessed and overcome a good number of challenges that would ordinarily have destroyed it.
“However, the indefatigable spirit of the Nigerian people has ensured that we overcome our challenges. It is in this spirit that I call on all of us to individually and collectively bring to the fore in dealing with all our development issues.
“I was called to serve, along with my team, I saw an opportunity to create a better Nigeria which we have done with the support of Nigerians. Almighty God and the good people of Nigeria supported us in laying a solid foundation for the Nigeria of our dreams,” he said.