President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Malabo condemned recent political violence in Rivers State, saying the killing of people over political differences was “primitive, barbaric and unacceptable”.
“We will deal decisively with all sponsors of violence. I have given the security services clear directives in this regard,” the president said.
There has been an upsurge of violence in the oil-rich state ahead of National and State Assembly rerun elections on Saturday.
The All Progressives Congress, Mr. Buhari’s party, accuses the Peoples Democratic Party-led Rives government of sponsoring and stoking violence against its members.
Some APC members have been killed and beheaded. The government says the violence was a result of a supremacy battle by cultists.
In his first public comments about the growing violence in Rivers State, Mr. Buhari said, “We will show that violence in any form will no longer be tolerated before, during or after elections.”
He spoke at an interactive meeting with Nigerians resident in Equatorial Guinea.
President Buhari said the Independent National Electoral Commission will be encouraged to explore the possibility of allowing Nigerians abroad vote in the 2019 general elections.
Noting that some African countries have started allowing their citizens resident abroad to vote in national elections, the president said he fully empathised with the desire of Nigerians in the diaspora to vote in national elections.
President Buhari pledged that he would therefore do all within his powers to fulfil that desire.
“I want all Nigerians to know that I respect them and their right to choose their leaders,” he said
The president also said that establishing a new national airline was not currently on the Federal Government’s list of priorities.
President Buhari declared that his administration’s main area of focus now was reducing the level of poverty in the country.
The president said that developing the infrastructure needed to boost production in all sectors of the economy and create more jobs for young Nigerians, as well as other actions that will directly improve the living conditions of ordinary Nigerians will continue to be prioritized by his administration.
President Buhari was responding to complaints by members of the Nigerian community about the absence of direct flights between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.
The president assured them that his administration’s war against corruption will remain “fearless, relentless and merciless”.
“We will be merciless and relentless in pursuing all those who abused public trust. Nigerians will see how some of the elite conspired to run the nation down,” he said.