The race to succeed him in 2023 got his attention on Tuesday as President Muhammadu Buhari warned against the use of his office in the campaigns.
He pledged to guarantee a credible electoral process.
To those aspiring for political offices, he admonished them to work hard because there would be no undue advantage.
The President spoke when he received a delegation of well-wishers, led by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, who came to felicitate with him on 77th birthday.
Mustapha and aides of the President presented him with a card.
Buhari told them that “at 77, I feel well.”
He added: “If you have played Tombola before, it’s about crutches. Many of those who are 77 are on crutches, but I am on my two feet.”
Speaking on the 2023 race, he said: “What I want to promise Nigerians is that I will work very hard on free and fair elections. All those that are going to succeed in the National Assembly and the Presidency (race) have to work very hard because I will make sure, using the law enforcement agencies, that elections are free and fair.
“Nobody will use his office or resources to force himself on his constituents.”
He said whoever “wants to contest must work hard” as he would not condone the use of his name and office to canvass for support.
The President asked politicians who intend to vie for positions in the general election to begin to work hard to merit the trust of the people.
Reiterating that he would not allow anybody to bend the rules against the will of Nigerians, the President charged members of his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), especially those who intend to contest elective positions, to work hard in their own interest and that of the APC.
The President promised to ensure that the elections are conducted according to the rules.
He noted that no office seeker would be allowed to use the influence of his own office or the resources of his state to foist himself on the people.
On economic saboteurs and the corrupt, Buhari said he had learnt to follow the democratic system to tackle the menace.
Democratic norms, he noted, are far different from the military system.
Recalling for the umpteenth time, his experience, he said; “I have learnt in a hard way. When I came in uniform, I collected (arrested) those who were leading and took them to Kirikiri (Prison in Lagos) and told them that they were guilty until they could prove themselves innocent.
“I put committees up based on geopolitical zones, to investigate them. Those that were found to have lived beyond their means, the balance (of what they stole) was taken and given to the state.
“But I was arrested and detained. Those we arrested were given back what they had stolen. However, under this system, which is supposed to be more accountable, I have noticed it is too slow for my liking. But I have to follow it.
“I think I have come to accept the realities of leadership in Nigeria; you can only try. It’s a terrific country. No matter what you do, there are people who are on daily basis looking for your fault in order to go to the press with it. You have to learn to live by that.”
President Buhari admonished Nigerians to learn to be patient with the government, saying “patience and patriotism are what we see as the rule. Nobody can have his own way. We have to accept that and as Nigerians we will keep on building.
“God has blessed us with land, people and other resources. We must have patience in order to exploit them and leave something for the future generations.”
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