President Muhammadu Buhari says democracy is not easy to achieve or maintain, praising the Nigerian people for their tolerance and patience to see democracy thrive in the country.
Addressing the nation via a state-wide broadcast on Friday, Buhari urged Nigerians to have faith in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver on credible elections.
The president also asked Nigerians to come out and vote the government of their choice, ignoring the rumours of violence and unrest around the nation.
THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH IS REPRODUCED BELOW:
Finally, we have reached the eve of the rescheduled first round of this year’s general elections.
2. Tomorrow, the polls open. Tomorrow, we affirm that Nigeria stands as a democracy and that no worldly hand can deter us from this wise and fitting path we have chosen for ourselves.
3. While democracy is the most beneficial way to select a nation’s leaders, it is far from the easiest thing to achieve and maintain.
4. It requires a combination of patience, tolerance, compassion, diligence, wisdom and hope. These traits exist in us the Nigerian people. Because of who we are, democracy has the chance to flourish in this land.
5. Thus, I commend all of you for your patience and peaceful conduct so far during this electoral season and especially during this intervening week following the postponement of the February 16 elections.
6. Many were worried and thought the worst might happen. You proved them wrong by showing that you are a great people with an abiding love for peace, democracy and the unity of our country.
7. According to the daily INEC public briefings given this week, the Electoral Commission says it is ready and fully prepared to conduct the election in a free, fair and transparent manner.
8. I believe INEC realises the profound and weighty duty that rests upon it.
9. We must cast aside doubt and have faith that INEC will rise to the occasion. We must believe and encourage INEC to fulfill and honour this responsibility it owes to our country.
10. As your President, I hereby ask all Nigerians with voting cards to participate in defining the future of our nation by exercising your democratic rights tomorrow. I urge you to go out and vote.
11. I say this because elections are the cornerstone of representative governance. And voting constitutes the highest and best expression of the sovereign will of the people to choose the government that best represents them.
12. It is only upon the freely expressed will of the people that government truly dedicated to the welfare, rights and interests of the people can be founded.
13. Do not allow anyone to discourage you from the exercise of your rights as citizens and voters tomorrow.
14. To vote means that you believe in Nigeria and the excellent things the future holds for this nation and its people.
15. No matter our political leanings, we all believe in Nigeria, in the noble principles for which it stands and in the values we strive for our beloved nation to uphold.
16. All who are able, must vote so that we may better perfect this democracy and continue to build the greater nation we seek.
17. Do not be afraid of rumours of violence and unrest. Our security agencies have worked diligently to ensure that adequate security measures are in place.
18. You will be able to vote in an atmosphere of openness and peace, devoid of fear from threat or intimidation.
19. International and domestic monitors and observers are assured of their safety and freedom of movement needed to perform their important functions.
20. As we thank domestic monitors and observers for their contributions to our democracy, we also thank the international groups for the friendship and concern they have demonstrated to our nation.
21. We appreciate their efforts in encouraging us to further entrench and strengthen our democracy.
22. Tomorrow is an encounter with history in which you, the people, shall affirm your collective belief in our national greatness and in our future.
23. I ask that you embrace and hold on to the importance of the moment soon to be upon us.
24. Honour your civic duty as voters by going to the polls tomorrow to vote for the government of your choice, for the government that will lead Nigeria toward its finest destiny.
25. As citizens there is no greater duty than this and no greater honour. Tomorrow, I know you will once again make Nigeria proud of its people.
May God bless our democracy and forever bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.