In 2023, I won’t interfere, condone intimidation, Buhari tells APC governors

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• President pledges to bequeath a legacy of non-interference after Ekiti, Osun polls
• APC dispels rumour of cold war between Tinubu, Adamu over campaign council
• Atiku tackles APC, FG over the economy, rising poverty, unemployment
• Rejects move to secure N11tr fresh loan

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised that government will ensure Nigerians don’t get intimidated or humiliated by those in positions of power during the 2023 general elections.

While reflecting on current political happenings ahead of the election during a meeting with governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, the President declared that he will not allow any politician to intimidate Nigerians with their personal resources.

Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) and governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, led members to the State House, Abuja.

President Buhari also gave an assurance that his administration would ensure that eligible citizens vote for candidates of their choice and that people’s votes would count during the next election.

He said: “We will not allow anyone to use personal resources or their influence to intimidate other Nigerians. We will not allow intimidation materially, morally or physically. This is the kind of leadership that can emerge and consolidate our nation.

“In six months, Nigerians will appreciate the government of APC that we are sincere and we respect them.”

The President said APC, under his leadership, will continue to respect Nigerians and ensure that their votes count and that the people’s voice matters in choosing political leaders at different levels.

He assured Nigerians that APC will continue to bequeath strong political institutions that reflect their choices through non-interference in elections, citing the outcome of polls in Ekiti, Anambra and Osun states as indicators. APC lost the governorship elections in Anambra and Osun but won in Ekiti.

His words: “I want Nigerians to know that we respect them, and for us to show that, we will allow them to vote who they want. We all witnessed what happened in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states. What happened in those states gives me a lot of hope that we are succeeding.’’

The President urged the party’s leaders to intensify efforts in “thinking, meeting and strategising for the 2023 elections.’’

Using state apparatus, especially security agencies, has been a sad point in previous elections in the country, but electoral observers have commended recent elections in the three states, although they said vote-buying was the new way politicians were influencing voters.

Recall that the President last week said he would only support candidates of his party, APC, in 2023. His statement yesterday, as released by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, indicated that while the President, as a politician, will campaign for his party, he does not plan to use state apparatus to give his party an advantage.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the PGF, Bagudu, thanked the President for his leadership, guided by wisdom and foresight, affirming that the Nigerian economy had been growing, in spite of challenges.

Bagudu said the growth trajectory, with the 3.5 per cent growth in the second quarter up from 3.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year, had defied initial predictions of some multilateral institutions, affirming that the World Bank and others had acknowledged the resilience of the economy, and reviewed their positions.

“As we speak, there is drought in Europe and China. The Ukraine-Russia war is taking a toll on economies. In the UK, there is rationing of electricity and energy shortages in China. While other countries are banning food export, we are preparing for more production, in spite of floods in places like Jigawa State,” he said.

The PGF Chairman told the President that some APC governors were contesting for a second term in 2023 with impressive records in their first term.

THE ruling party has dispelled rumour of a cold war between the APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, and the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

APC’s Deputy National Organising Secretary, Nze Chidi Duru, in a chat with reporters in Abuja, said there is no iota of truth in the stories making the rounds that Tinubu and Adamu are not in synch over the means to achieve the victory of the party in the poll.

Duru maintained that both the Tinubu team and the party national secretariat have fine-tuned the full list of members of the APC campaign council ahead of the flag-off for campaigns on September 28.

He said: “There is no power tussle over positions. None of such has happened and the party and the candidate are working together. It is important to say that we agreed on the Director General and spokesman of the campaign council.

“The governors will control the structures at the zones. The party can’t be excluded and it won’t even exclude anybody. We will have an embracing and all-inclusive campaign council. There is no discord anywhere. More importantly, the party chairman agreed on the issue of DG and spokesman. Before the INEC flag-off on September 28, all other positions will be unveiled. The chairman is leading the conversation,” he said.

The party’s position came against the backdrop of media reports that APC is yet to unveil the full list of members of the Presidential Campaign Council as a result of a power tussle between the duo. Recall that the Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, were appointed as DG and spokesman respectively.

MEANWHILE, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday, decried poor management of the nation’s resources by the APC-led Federal Government, submitting that such failures had deepened Nigeria’s economic woes.

The former Vice President, who alleged that the government was being deceitful about the country’s economic situation, rejected efforts to take a fresh loan of over N11 trillion to finance the deficit in the 2023 budget.

Atiku, in a statement he personally signed on Tuesday night, declared: “We need to bake a bigger cake and not bigger debts.

“Last week, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the GDP figures for Q2,2022. The government has been unreasonably upbeat about the reported growth rate of 3.4 per cent.”

According to Atiku, the plain truth is that the economy is in deeper trouble than the APC-led government is willing to admit.

“Citizens’ level of misery hasn’t changed and the reasons are obvious: the key sectors of the economy, notably agriculture, oil and gas (the country’s cash cow) and manufacturing (that contributes to jobs), are either growing slowly or declining.

“Secondly, unabated are rising commodity prices occasioned by high energy and transportation costs and aggravated by the disorderliness in the forex market. Also, debt levels continue to rise while the fiscal capacity to service its debts is declining. All these are enough to erase the perceived gains from output growth.

“Having run out of ideas, it appears that our unprecedented level of indebtedness is whetting the government’s appetite for more debt. This is a recipe for macroeconomic instability,” he stated.

He challenged NBS to share with the public their recent statistics on poverty, unemployment and commodity prices, pointing out that “the reality leaves no hope for the common man.”

Atiku also spoke about his consideration of a government of national unity, which he said “will douse the temperature, unite Nigerians and pave the way for improved security,” adding that “improved security allows for investments and an improved economy.”

On Monday, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance to defend the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), disclosed that the government will borrow over N11 trillion and sell some national assets to finance budget deficit next year and insisted that petroleum subsidy would remain in place until mid-2023.

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