President Muhammadu Buhari says before Edo residents cast their ballots on Saturday, he told Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police, that the election must be free and fair.
The president had warned the IGP and Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, not to interfere in the election.
Speaking when he hosted Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, at the presidential villa in Abuja on Friday, Buhari said he spoke to heads of security agencies ahead of the election because he did not want “innocent Nigerians” to suffer, irrespective of party affiliation.
“I thank you for bringing your deputy and supporters to come and see me after beating my party. I am supposed to preside over all Nigerian interests whether I like it or not, but my single desire is to make sure that innocent people don’t suffer,” he said.
“That message I got across to the Inspector General of Police, that elections must be free and fair. If contestants have too much money and they decide to spray, so be it. But what I insist is, nobody should go and raise a counter force to the government, arm heavily-drugged thugs to go and humiliate people.
“I want Nigerians to appreciate that I respect them as Nigerians and that I am bound by the oath I have taken, that their security is in the hands of God and in the hands of the government, which I am leading.”
Buhari said as the leader of the ruling party, and despite the fact that the party has lost some states in elections, he wishes to leave behind a political culture based on integrity.
“We have lost states across the country. Now I do not like to escape the responsibility, seeing as the leader of the country, I am also the leader of my party, that I am not leading the party very well,” he said.
“I am trying to make sure that the party is built on a civilised basis, rule of law and respect for human rights and human beings, right from polling units to local governments, to states up to Abuja and that’s what I have been insisting as my contribution to the National Working Committee and executive of the party.
“I know we are a developing country, a developing economy and trying to develop our political culture. I want the development of political culture to be based on integrity and accountability. Let people work very hard and earn what they are looking for through their hard work and through fair competition.”
He added jocularly that he was congratulating the Edo governor “reluctantly” because he defeated the candidate of his party.