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Buhari tries to tap into social conscience as the country goes to the polls

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FRI, FEBRUARY 15 2019-theG&BJournal-President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday sent a powerful yet truthful message to the Nigerians who are voting in the general election schedule for tomorrow, 16 February 2019.

It was avuncular, posing direct challenges to his opponents, promising to push forward with the repairs of the broken economy his government inherited and he did try to echo the string of successes as well.

The most powerful section of the speech concerned the diplomatic community and youths who make up over 50% of the country’s voting population.

‘’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.’’

For the youths he said: ‘’Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence and destruction. The people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections,’’ Buhari said in his first pre-election speech as president.

Debates leading up this election have indeed been focused on the role of the country’s youthful population, how they will influence the outcome of the election and how they will apply the forces of technology to drive a wedge between the contenders. With technology the expectations for democracy have increased significantly fuelling the growth in political awareness-a trend driven mainly by the spread of the internet and social media. The youths- between and ages of 18 -35 dominate this sphere.

The president’s speech received a warm welcome from the mix of supporters and opponents, many of whom were jolted by the clarity of his message.

Buhari was elected as the country’s president on a radical programme of ideas that represented a sensitive departure from previous leaders of the country. It was and still is pegged on curbing corruption.

He has vowed to push on with that because as he suggests- it is the road to greater prosperity for Nigeria. ‘’What you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians,’’ he said.

Buhari believes the democratic institutions have been getting better and he was quick to alert on what the voters should consider tomorrow. ‘’February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE,’’ he said.

He did try to assert his argument by urging the electorate to vote on what he has accomplished in the past 3years and 9 months with his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

‘’The damage that insecurity and corruption have done, over time, to our collective livelihood is incalculable. However, it is pleasing to note that our frontal attack on these twin evils is gaining momentum and bringing about visible progress.’’

If there was a great message, it was that this election marked a new phase in how elections should be conducted. Elections should be free and fair, inclusive and involving, the president hinted.

‘’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.’’

President Buhari is the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting president in Nigeria (Peoples Democratic Party candidate) through the ballot box. That fact still hurts and for most of the PDP supporters, Buhari’s address was disappointing.

Buhari failed to address in detail how he plans to tackle the country’s ballooning debt profile, they pointed out. ‘’It was a lot about what we already know but not a lot about the private sector and what we don’t know,’’ one of his critics said.

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