By Salisu Sani-Idris
The Federal Government has restated its commitment to conduct free, fair and credible elections come 2023.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, gave the assurance at the finals of National Unity Polo Tournament organised by Keffi Polo Ranch, Keffi, Nasarawa State.
The Polo Tournament, organized by Hon. Ahmed Aliyu Wadada, has as its theme for this year: “National Unity Polo Tournament 2022.”
The tournament, which is an yearly event, is known for attracting the high and the mighty in the society and this year was not different as dignitaries cutting across political, business, security and traditional Rulers classes were in attendance.
The SGF, who advised Nigerians to take a cue from the recent elections in Kenya where the loser approached the court to seek redress instead of resorting to self help, added that the most responsible thing for Nigerians to do was to ensure that they get their Voters card ready to vote for their choices.
He said: “On the coming elections, the only responsible thing for the people to do is to make sure that they register o vote so that their voices may be heard.
“People are called upon to avoid anything that will further aggravate the already tensed situation we are in as a country.
“We should take a cue from what just happened in Kenya where a declaration was made at the end of an election and instead of resorting to self help the loser went to Court and the Court had the opportunity to give its verdict and the loser accepted the verdict in the interest of the nation. I think that is a very good lesson that we should imbibe as a nation.
“At the end of the exercise in 2023 there will obviously be a winner, so the loser must either accept the loss in good faith or approach the Court to be heard.
He said the off-season election in Osun state was testament to the federal government readiness to be neutral come 2023.
“As a Government we have demonstrated that we will never interfere with the electoral process. The off season election in Osun state is clear demonstration of our commitment to clean and fair electoral process.”
He also commended Hon. Wadada for his initiative, adding that it was capable of creating harmony across political divides.
Also speaking, the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare, disclosed that they welcomed the idea when the organiser approached the ministry with the proposal, since it was capable of promoting harmony.
He said: ” The idea of hosting a national Polo game came up and Wadada discussed it with it us and we supported it. I am happy to see the dignitaries here and Polo has truly been used to promote harmony, so Wadada had done a great job.”
On his part, Hon Wadada, who is also the Senatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the race to represent Nasarawa West Senatorial District come 2023, disclosed that the idea behind the tournament was deliberately skewed towards dousing the risen political tension in the land.
He said: ” As mark of responsiveness and responsibility, I came up with this idea and sougth the collaboration of the ministry and Heritage Bank and others to organise this to bring down the Political tension in the land.
“We have demonstrated that it is not everything must be viewed through politics. Here we have people from all the political divides and this is the message we try to preach. The tournament is centred around unity and the representation here has shown.
“The spirit of sportsmanship obtainable in the sports in general and the game of Polo in particular must be seen to prevail in the forthcoming election. We must know that not all will be winner in the coming election. So as we prepare to win we must prepare to accept defeat if it comes.”
Also, PDP Presidential candidate, ex-Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, represented by Babangida Aliyu, former Niger governor described the tournament as apt and critical in bringing people together.
”This provides an opportunity to have open conversations in a friendly atmosphere on issues causing divisions in the country.
“Coming here is very important, because we need these kinds of activities bring people of all kinds together to understand that politics is not a physical war.
”Instead, it should be more a war of wits, a war of ideas. A war of getting people to appreciate who to vote for,” he added.
On his part, the APC Presidential Candidate, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu,represented by Yusuf Husseini, Director-General, Tinubu Presidential Ambassadors of Nigeria and Diaspora (TPAND).
He said that bringing all the political stakeholders together indicated that the 2023 General Elections would be devoid of rancour.
”Hence the call on more Nigerians to emulate Keffi Polo ranch by coming up with initiatives to promote unity.
“This tournament is a very good platform for all individuals, irrespective of party affiliations to come and express their oneness and one love.
”We are together and will work together for the success of the electoral processes,” he said.
Ogianme Atuwatse III, Olu of Warri and the Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Chindo-Yamusa, extolled the objective of the tournament.
The duo pledged to support any initiative geared towards fostering peace and unity in their domains and in Nigeria in general.
In attendance are, the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Dr Emmanuel Akabe, retired Captain Bala Shehu Shagari, Rep. Jonathan Gaza, Emir of Nasarawa, Alhaji Usman Jibrin, Etsu of Karu, Abaga Toni of Garaku, Emir of Awe, Alhaji Isa Abubakar Umar III, among dignitaries from within and outside the state.