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Ondo, Rivers elections litmus test for 2019 polls – Buhari

  • Directs security agencies to ensure hitch-free elections

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies to do their utmost in ensuring violence-free elections in Ondo and Rivers states.

He said the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Ondo and national and state assembly rerun elections in Rivers would serve as a litmus test for the general elections in 2019.

Buhari spoke at a state dinner in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Monday, a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, on Tuesday in Abuja said.

The President said he was disturbed by the violence and killing of innocent citizens during the conduct of gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

He said: “What happened in [the last elections] Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers states disturb me a lot.

“I think we should go beyond these actions. Why do we kill each other? Putting tyres on people and setting them ablaze.

“I have told the law enforcement agencies, if we can’t conduct an election in one state then we should forget about 2019,” the President said.

Acknowledging the role played by outgoing Governor Adams Oshiomhole in ensuring the success of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last gubernatorial elections in the state, President Buhari challenged the Governor-elect, Mr Godwin Obaseki, to continue in Oshiomhole’s footsteps of providing purposeful leadership in terms of quality infrastructure, education and social services.

“The publicity your predecessor has given his performance is going to stretch you to the limit.

“Considering what he has down, you have to continue in his footsteps. We wish you the best of luck and will do our best to support you,” the President said.

On the current economic challenges in the country, the President assured Nigerians that his administration was working hard on diversification of the economy to limit the country’s over-dependence on oil over the years.

“This country has incredible mineral resources. All we need is to believe in ourselves so that we can have and leave a better Nigeria for our children and grandchildren,” the President said.