[By VICTOR NZE]
President Muhammadu Buhari has advised politicians under the All Progressives Congress (APC) to work hard so as to earn the deserved victory ‘through fair competition.’
Buhari said this Friday, while playing host to the winner of the just-concluded Edo State Governorship Elections, Mr Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party, who visited the Presidential Villa along with his running mate in the poll, Mr Philip Shaibu.
Obaseki, the incumbent governor of Edo State defeated the APC candidate, Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu in a hotly-contested poll, last Saturday, to return for a second term in office.
While receiving Obaseki and his deputy who called to thank him for facilitating a free and fair election in Edo State, Buhari admitted that he had to ensure that the lives of the electorate was never in danger in the course of the poll.
The President also used the occasion to restate his commitment towards the development of a strong political culture for the country, as he succinctly urged his politicians under the various parties to strive towards fair play and competition.
“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.
“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.
“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 [LGAs], to States up to Abuja and that’s what I have been insisting as my contribution to the NWC 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.
Earlier, Obaseki, thanked the President for permitting a free and fair exercise in the state governorship poll.
“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 the 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.
“Your congratulatory 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,” Obaseki said, just as he further assured of his ‘unalloyed loyalty and support and that of the people of Edo State to the President and the Federal Government.’
Meanwhile, fielding questions by State House Correspondents, Obaseki dismissed reports of his planned defection to the APC, saying; “I couldn’t have contested on a party won on that party’s platform and then considered moving to another party.
“It’s not a good thing to do, it’s not the right thing to do and I’m sure you will not encourage me to do that.”
Obaseki was accompanied on the visit by his wife, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki; wife of the deputy governor, Mrs. Maryann Shaibu; Chief Tom Ikimi; Senator Representing Edo Central Senatorial District, Clifford Ordia; Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District, Matthew Urhoghide; House of Representatives member representing Oredo Federal Constituency, Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, among others
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