Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday restated his commitment to deepening of democracy in Nigeria by entrenching free and fair elections in the country.
President Buhari spoke during a brief ceremony to mark the 77th birthday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“What I want to promise Nigerians that I will work very hard on is free and fair election.
“All those that are going to succeed in the National Assembly and the Presidency, they better work very hard because I will make sure, using the law enforcement agencies, that elections are free and fair, nobody uses his office or his resources to force himself on his constituency,” he said.
The president said he would continue his fight against corruption and economic saboteurs; even though the democratic system and the court processes have been slow in dealing with the problem.
“Well, like I said, I have learnt in the hard way. When I came in uniform, I collected those who were leading, took them to Kirikiri and told them they were guilty until they could prove themselves innocent.
“Those that were found to have lived beyond their means, the balance was taken and were given to the states.
“But I myself was arrested, detained and they were given back what they have stolen.
“So under this system which is supposed to be more accountable, but it is too slow for my liking, but I have to follow it,” he stated.
President Buhari said his message to Nigerians on his 77th birthday was assurance of his patience and patriotism.
“That is what we see as rule, nobody can have it his own way, we better accept the truth that we are one Nigerians, we keep on building.
“God has blessed us with land and people and resources. We must have the patience to exploit them and leave something for our future generations.”
The president feels “well at 77” and was happy because some of those who attained that age were “on crutches and I am walking on my two feet.”
He said he has come to accept the realities of leadership in Nigeria, and would continue to do his best despite the efforts of his critics who look for faults and go to the media on daily basis.