President Muhammadu Buhari has used the opportunity of Christmas celebration across the world today to reiterate his commitment to free, fair, and credible elections in 2019, saying his word was his bond.
He said the forthcoming election was significant because it represented a sworn declaration on the advancement of Nigeria as well as the future and safety of young and unborn generations.
President Buhari said, “My avowed commitment to free, fair, credible and violence-free polls is not a ruse or yet another vain political promise. My word is my bond.
“Let us tell the world that, indeed, something good can come out from Nigeria. And it will happen, as we all team up to make it happen. Merry Christmas!”
Buhari stated this on Monday as part of his Christmas message to Nigerians.
He said directives had equally been given to security agents that would be involved in the polls to stay neutral.
“With general elections around the corner and heightened political activities across the country, I have charged our security and law enforcement agencies to secure the sanctity of the ballot box and ensure that the outcome of the polls reflected the will of the Nigerian people,” the president stated.
According to him, the year 2018 had seen great strides by his administration as well as some downsides which were not the making of government.
He seized the occasion to laud members of the Nigerian armed forces who had been battling terrorism in the North-East, saying they deserved love and care at all times.
“I felicitate with all Nigerians, particularly our Christian brothers and sisters, on the joyous occasion of this year’s Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
“Like I have done in the last three Christmas messages to my fellow compatriots as a serving president, I believe this season is another opportunity to reflect on the imagery of the humble, symbolic and divine birth of a young child thousands of years ago in Bethlehem, Judea, and the message of hope, compassion, salvation, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace that Jesus Christ embodies and conveys.
“In 2018, Nigerians have had mixed blessings, typical of human beings.
“On the pleasant side, our economy has made significant progress since coming out from recession and our faithful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“Agricultural revolution has seen a vastly improved local production to the detriment of importation, while we have achieved surplus in our trade balance.
“Similarly, infrastructural deficit has been greatly reduced with significant improvements in roads, railways, aviation and power.”
On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki has urged Christians to pray for successful elections in 2019.
Felicitating with Christian faithful and all Nigerians as they celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Day, Saraki congratulated Nigerians for their resilience in the face of the challenges facing the nation and asked them to pray for improvement in the social, political, and economic conditions of the country in the coming year.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki admonished Nigerians to make it part of their New Year resolution that they would play their constitutional roles to ensure that the country had a peaceful, credible, free and transparent elections in February and March 2019, and that the results of the elections would lead to rapid socio-political and economic development of Nigeria.
Saraki said: “I wish all Nigerians a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I want to call on Christians, in particular, and Nigerians, in general, to emulate the virtues of Christ, who through self-sacrifice brought salvation to humanity.”
On an upbeat tone, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) charged Nigerians to use the occasion of this Christmas to pray for the nation and focus on their collective resolve to vanquish oppressive forces and build a peaceful, united, and prosperous country where all citizens would live without fear.
The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO) gave this advice on behalf of Atiku Abubakar, the party’s presidential candidate.
It noted that the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour, signified the triumph of light over darkness and offered Nigerians the new hope and spiritual impetus in their shared quest for a brighter future for the nation under a new administration.
In a statement by its Director, Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, it noted that this year’s Christmas celebration was unique in that it marked the last under “the oppressive and insensitive administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his dysfunctional All Progressives Congress (APC), which relish in inflicting hunger, suffering, and pains on the people”.
The PPCO lamented the ugly situation in which Nigerians could not celebrate a wholesome Christmas as they used to do prior to the emergence of the Buhari presidency in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has charged Nigerians to imbibe the virtues of love, fairness, selfless service, and commitment to public good as exemplified by Christ in order to ensure the conduct of hitch-free 2019 elections.
Ekweremadu gave the charges in his goodwill message to Nigerians at Christmas in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu.
Explaining that the National Assembly had amended the constitution to quicken the dispensation of justice in pre-election disputes, Ekweremadu said: “The forthcoming general election is critical for the survival and deepening of democracy in Nigeria.
“So, I believe that embracing the Christlike virtues of love, peace, fairness, and selfless service to fatherland is key to eschewing the desperation and pursuit of narrow interests that fuel vote-buying, intimidation, and other electoral manipulations that in turn trigger electoral violence.
“Slow pace of justice delivery has been an incentive for ills. Therefore, just as we amended the constitution in 2010 to prescribe a timeframe for the conclusion of election petitions, the current National Assembly has further amended Section 285 of the constitution to set timeframes for the conclusion of pre-election disputes such as issues arising from primary elections. The president has also assented to this particular amendment to make it part of our constitution.
“Going forward, every pre-election matter must be filed not later than 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action complained of in the suit.
“Judgment shall be delivered within 180 days of institution of the suit. An appeal from a pre-election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days.
“That way, every aggrieved persons can rest assured that they don’t have to wait forever again to get justice. Every wrong done before or during elections will now be remedied speedily.”
Ekweremadu wished Nigerians a merry Christmas, urging them to also continue to pray for the country.
Similarly, Prince Uche Secondus, the National Chairman of the PDP, asked Nigerians to pray for better leaders and peaceful elections. This was his Christmas message to Nigerians.
Urging Nigerians to use the occasion to offer special prayers for good leaders with the love of the people to emerge, Secondus said, “We need political leaders that can bring smiles on the faces of the people and such leaders can only come from God through our sincere supplications.”
The PDP National Chairman further urged Nigerians to use this period to seek God’s mercy so he can provide leaders that would bring comfort and peace in the country.
His message was contained in a statement by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi.
Secondus noted that the 2019 general election provided the people the ample opportunity to rescue not just “our democracy but the country.”