The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday, in Abuja, advised those planning to rig the 2023 general election to dismiss the idea.
This was as he vowed to use every legitimate means to protect the votes of Nigerians.
Buhari spoke during an Iftar dinner he organised in honour of members of the Diplomatic Corps at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, the President said, “Those planning to rig the forthcoming elections should think twice because I intend to resolutely protect and defend the sacred will of the Nigerian people, to be expressed through the ballot box.”
President Buhari also cautioned against foreign interference in the forthcoming elections saying ‘‘As you are all aware, the tenure of this administration ends on May 29, 2023. Typical of election years all over the world, the tempo of political activities is often high.
‘‘That is the nature of democracy. I am committed to bequeathing a stronger culture of credible elections to Nigeria than I met.
‘‘As Nigeria goes through this trajectory, I urge our friends in the global community, represented by the Diplomatic Corps, to adopt a positive role that reinforces the doctrine of respect for our internal affairs and respect for facts and devoid of preconceived notions and bias.”
Addressing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Buhari called for greater consideration for humanitarian conditions in the affected areas in the ongoing crisis, warning that the conflict would get worse if an immediate resolution is not found.
‘‘The war has lasted too long, cost so much, and hurt too many people, well beyond the immediate theatres.
‘‘The rest of the world is progressively facing the impact of the conflict and this will certainly get worse, if an immediate resolution is not found, not least in the area of food security,” he said.
He welcomed the recent initiative of United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, of visiting Moscow and Kyiv, commending his efforts in search of a ceasefire, as a prelude to other enduring solutions.
‘‘The United Nations must continue to actively lead the way for engagements that could ultimately unlock peace through diplomacy,’’ he said.
Citing the holy month of Ramadan, Buhari urged the Muslim community to use the solemn and rewarding period, especially these last days of the fast, to intensify prayers for de-escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the return of peace to the world.
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and High Commissioner of Cameroon to Nigeria, Ibrahima Salaheddine, pledged that the international community would continue to support Nigeria before, during, and after the forthcoming general elections.
‘‘As Nigeria enters another electoral year, we pray to Almighty Allah to put the electoral process under divine guidance for peaceful, free, and fair elections,’’ he said.
Salaheddine, who described this year’s Iftar as special, noted that due to COVID-19, the tradition of meeting the President for the breaking of fast did not hold for two years.
He, therefore, congratulated the Nigerian government for curtailing the spread of the pandemic, saying the ‘‘enlightened leadership’’ of President Buhari had largely brought its spread in Nigeria under control.