President Buhari, however, charged politicians and their followers to conduct their campaigns with a high sense of maturity and dignity, the type he said had been sustained throughout the various parties’ primaries.
“As we move into the general election campaign season, we must sustain this mature attitude to campaigning and ultimately, voting. We must never see it as a ‘do or die affair. We must all remember democracy is about the will of the majority. There must be winners and losers.
“I will therefore take this opportunity on this very special day to ask all candidates to continue running issue-focused campaigns and to treat opponents with dignity. As leaders, you must all showcase the high character and never forget that the world is watching us and Africa looks up to Nigeria to provide an example in governance. The tone you set at the top will surely be replicated in your followers.
“For the voters, I am pleased to inform you that in the last seven years, our government across all tiers, has made significant investments to reform and enhance our electoral laws, systems, and processes to safeguard your votes,” he said.
Assuring that citizens’ rights to choose their government would be preserved, President Buhari said, “the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary were and still remain united and committed to ensuring these reforms are fully implemented in the 2023 general elections. Fellow Nigerians, your right to choose your government will be preserved and protected.”
He further assuring citizens of his administration’s commitment to delivering on its promise of a peaceful electoral process, the President charged them to also support the process that would deliver the desired results, especially in honour and memory of the June 12 icon, the late Chief MKO Abiola.
“Fellow Nigerians, this is my last Democracy Day speech as your President. By June 12, 2023, exactly one year from today, you will already have a new President. I remain committed and determined to ensure that the new President is elected through a peaceful and transparent process.
“It is important for all of us to remember that June 12, 2023, will be exactly 30 years from the 1993 Presidential elections. In honour and memory of one of our national heroes for democracy, Chief M.K.O Abiola, GCFR, we must all work together to ensure this transition is done in a peaceful manner.
“I am hopeful that we can achieve this. The signs so far are positive. Recently, all registered political parties conducted primaries to select their candidates for the 2023 general elections”, he said.
“I know many of us are concerned with the rise in insecurity due to terrorist activities in parts of the country. As a government, we are working hard to contain and address these challenges. And ensure that the 2023 general elections are safe and secure for all Nigerians.
“To achieve this, however, we must all contribute. It is not the job of the government alone. I ask all citizens to support and cooperate with our security agencies by reporting any suspicious characters and activities to law enforcement agencies. We can only have a safe country if we are able to prevent crime not after the crime has been committed”, he said.
He assured Nigerians that the government and the security agencies were working towards freeing all the citizens that have been held by terrorists, adding that he daily lives in grieve over the menace of insecurity in the land.
“On this special day, I want us all to put all victims of terrorist activities in our thoughts and prayers. I am living daily with the grief and worry for all those victims and prisoners of terrorism and kidnapping. I and the security agencies are doing all we can to free those unfortunate countrymen and countrywomen safely.
“For those who have lost their lives, we will continue to seek justice for their families against the perpetrators. For those currently in captivity, we will not stop until they are freed, and their kidnappers are brought to justice. If we all unite, we will be victorious against these agents of terror and destruction.
“We have reformed some of our security structures. Some of the defence assets we procured three years ago have arrived and have been deployed.
“Our cyber security and surveillance systems are being upgraded to further enhance our ability to track and trace criminal elements. We are also recruiting and training new personnel across all our security and intelligence agencies to strengthen the country’s over-all security.
“I will conclude this Democracy Day speech, my last as President, by assuring you of my commitment to protect Nigeria and Nigerians from all enemies from within and outside.
“I am also promising you a free, fair and transparent electoral process. And I am pleading with all citizens to come together and work with Government to build a peaceful and prosperous nation,” he said.