2019 Election Not Declaration Of War — Buhari

 President Muhammadu Buhari has urged political leaders in the country not to see the forthcoming 2019 general election as a declaration of war but a contest that is based on principles, programmes, and aspirations that should uplift the nation.
He said rather than divide the nation, elections should cement the Nigerian people’s brotherhood and unity.
President Buhari made the call at the launch of ‘My Transition Hours’, a memoir of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on the 2015 general elections.
The president said he would always remain grateful to his predecessor whose time as leader, he said, was still ahead of him.
The president, who was represented at the occasion by Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on Tuesday in Abuja, said Jonathan – by his singularly act – has written his name in the annals of the country and beyond the African continent, and would be remembered for his courage.
Buhari hailed his predecessor for voluntarily conceding defeat in the 2015 general elections, describing him as a true democrat.
According to President Buhari, Nigerians should build a nation that would outlive the present generation.
“If Nigeria progresses, we all progress but if she fails, no one will be spared. Your Excellency, accept my personal respect and expression of deep appreciation of what you have done for this country. You are a leader of the past, of now and of the future; you will rise again; I wish you the best you wish yourself,” Buhari said.
He called on Nigerians to see elections as contests and should be done in free, fair and peaceful environment.
He said Nigerians should eschew bitterness, bigotry, hate speech and “promote Nigeria for us and generation yet unborn.”
Jonathan, however, condemned any act of inducement of voters and vote buying during elections in the country, adding that the act was contrary to democratic norms and therefore, wrong.
Eyes of lagos gathered that,the former president, in his remarks, said the book was not his biography but a short memoir on the 2015 general elections.
He said that vote buying, which was gradually replacing other forms of electoral malpractices, had become scandalous and placed the country in bad light.
He pointed out that voters inducement through engraving of pictures of candidates and political party logos on gift items during elections was another rampant strategy of vote buying.
He advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to borrow a leaf from other African countries and create polling centres in public places such as schools where classrooms were used for voting to make it difficult for vote buying.
He explained that the book he launched was essentially an account of happenings during the 2015 general elections and the events that made him to place a phone call to President Muhammadu Buhari, which doused tension and ensured peaceful transition from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Party (APC).
He mentioned issues addressed in the book, including the Boko Haram menace, Chibok girls, the fight against corruption.
The book suggested that the use of technology and subsidy issue were hijacked by some politicians for their selfish goal.
“The issue of vote buying is becoming scandalous in the country. We know that there’s this concept of inducing the electorate.
“In most of the countries I have gone to supervise elections, all aspects of voter inducement are criminalised.
“What I mean by inducement of the electorate is that during elections we package bags of salt, rice with the picture of the candidates and logo of the party. This is wrong by all international standards.”
He said the inherited practice from past regimes has degenerated where people now go to polling booths to negotiate the price of votes, insisting that the INEC must do all that was possible to stop the trend.
Giving insight into his suggestion in the book, he said the commission should take a second look at how polling booths were constructed, stating that elsewhere in Africa, open halls – such as primary school halls – were used, allowing no room for seclusion.
Jonathan, who spoke amid applause, urged all politicians and youths to pick a copy of the book which, he said, was apt coming on the eve of the 2019 general elections.
Expectedly, former heads of states and presidents who graced the book launch in their numbers eulogised the Bayelsan born politician.
Yakubu Gowon, former Head of State, pointed out that Jonathan pulled Nigeria from the brink of a major calamity and war.
According to the wartime leader, the entire African continent and the AU, in particular, was afraid the election would degenerate into crisis that would set the country and Africa back because of the place Nigeria occupied on the continent.
Dignitaries present also included former Ghanaian President, Dramani John Mahama; Bai Koroma, former Sierra Leone leader, and Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate in the forthcoming general elections.
All of them spoke in the same manner as Gowon.
Mahama, a bosom friend of Jonathan’s, disclosed that he was inundated with calls by world leaders on whether Jonathan would accept the result.
He said he, at no time, even had doubts about the response of Jonathan, given his humility and philosophy.
Koroma said that in Jonathan, the continent had what Nigeria should be, commending him for exemplary leadership.
Atiku noted that he would have preferred the book to be entitled ‘Nigeria’s Finest Hours’, saying the spirit of the book should be entrenched in the country.
He emphasised that no ambition of any individual was worth the blood of any citizen.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, saluted Jonathan for his statesmanship, sportsmanship and uncommon courage of conceding defeat to Buhari in 2015 when collation was still on.
Saraki said that the act of accepting defeat by Jonathan helped to stabilise the already charged political atmosphere during the elections.
He recalled how Jonathan used to vow that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian and called on political leaders to toe the same path and should not look at elections as declaration of war as the 2019 polls approached.
The unexpected arrival of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the book launch midway into the programme caused a major stir that almost distracted the audience at the grand event.
The APC leader arrived the occasion in company of Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom.
In a rare show of bipartisan favour, they went straight, greeted, and posed for pictures with Jonathan before posing for pictures again with Prince Uche Secondus, the National Chairman of the main opposition PDP.
Earlier, the arrival of Olusegun Obasanjo sent the colourful gathering into frenzy when he waltzed in amid chants of ‘Baba Baba’.
Obasanjo, who chaired the occasion, told Jonathan to take on more community responsibilities, saying that his experience in peace building was urgently needed in the country.
Welcoming guests, chief host and governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, had earlier announced that the proceeds of the book would be used to fund the Jonathan Goodluck Foundation for which the state had made available six hectares of land.
He later presented the original copy of certificate of occupancy to the foundation while announcing a monthly grant of N5 million for the running of the foundation.
Other donors included T. Y. Dajuma who unveiled the book with N10 million. He was represented by General Agwai.
Former ministers and governors under the PDP government also picked 100 copies of the book each for N10 million.
The occasion almost turned into a mini rally of the PDP and witnessed the presence of the ‘who is who’ in the PDP government since 1999.

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