Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has called on prospective voters and all citizens to ensure Saturday’s gubernatorial election is peaceful and devoid of intimidation and harassment.
Reuben Abati, spokesman for President Jonathan, says the leader expects security agencies, including the police, to protect civilians during the poll.
“Mr. President reiterated his call for peaceful conduct during the election and he stressed the point about every stakeholder placing emphasis on national unity and stability. This was against the background of certain developments after the presidential and national assembly elections and in the lead up to the gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections,” said Abati.
“The president felt the need to again call on the people to realize that what was achieved during the presidential and national assembly elections is an achievement that has to be sustained, and that peace is important and that again the international community is watching,” he added.
His comments followed reports of heightened tension in some hotly contested state races where the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) faces a stiff challenge from the All Progressives Congress (APC). There were also reports of intimidation and harassment of opponents as well as electoral officials in the run up to the election.
“The security agencies have reassured Nigerians that they are up to the task and that the election will go smoothly,” said Abati.
The Nigerian army says the election will proceed as planned in areas previously controlled by Boko Haram militants. This, after the army and its international allies reclaimed territories from the militants ahead of the March 28 election.
Mr. Jonathan has been hailed by both citizens and the international community for conceding defeat after he called his main rival, now President-Elect General Muhammadu Buhari to congratulate him on his election victory.
He was also praised for not interfering in the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to administer the vote despite reported calls by some of his supporters to do so.
Abati says President Jonathan vowed to leave a legacy of an electoral body that is truly independent and capable of conducting transparent and credible elections.
“He promised Nigerians free and fair elections, and everyone has admitted that all the elections conducted under his watch have been free and fair,” said Abati.
“We have had a president who does not interfere in the outcome of elections who allows the democratic space to accommodate and allow the people’s free choice… That is a legacy that he will like to see ensure because it is a major thing that has happened in Nigerian democracy. He has succeeded in consolidating Nigerian democracy,” Abati added.