Elections: Buhari dissociates Nigerian govt from El-Rufai’s statement on foreign intervention
President Muhammadu Buhari has disassociated the federal government from the comment made by the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai that Nigerian forces will kill foreign soldiers who intervene militarily in the country’s election matters.
Mr Buhari, in a live broadcast to the nation on Thursday evening, assured members of the diplomatic community and foreign election observers of their safety and protection.
“I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection.
“Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the president said.
Although the president did not mention Mr El-Rufai by name, the Kaduna governor’s statement had been criticised by many Nigerians and the opposition.
“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags,” Mr El-Rufai had said.
The governor’s explanation that his call was not in any way a call for violence did not deter critics from condemning it. European Union observers reacted to the statement by saying they were in the country to observe the elections at the request of the electoral commission, INEC. The presidency had also earlier defended the Kaduna governor, saying it was satisfied with his explanation.
The February 16 presidential election is expected to be hotly contested, and there are fears of violence and election fraud, with the opposition repeatedly accusing the ruling party of plotting to rig the polls.
On Wednesday, the national chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole, also accused the INEC of working for the main opposition party, PDP.
Mr Buhari has repeatedly committed to a free and fair poll and the presidency has warned against any attempt by other nations to meddle in the country’s internal affairs.
In his Thursday broadcast to the nation, the president once again assured Nigerians that the government would ensure the elections “take place in a secured and peaceful atmosphere”.
“It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.
“ And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfil this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future,” Mr Buhari said.
The president appealed to Nigerians, especially the youth, not to take to violence during the elections.
“I urge you all as good Nigerians to take up personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhood during the elections.
“This is not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interest to drive us to desperation,” he said.