President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday that he would guarantee free and fair polls in 2019 by ensuring a level-playing field.
He alleged that in past elections when he contested before he won eventually in 2015, votes were “awarded” to the winners to deny him victory.
Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja when he received a delegation from the International Republican and National Democratic Institute, United States of America.
The delegation was led by Ambassador Linda-Thomas Greenfield.
Buhari stated, “I am glad you are here to assess our pre-election preparations. It reminds me of the visit by the then Secretary of State, John Kerry, before the 2015 polls. We appreciate the concern of America for stability in developing countries.
“Having run for President three times, ending up at the Supreme Court all three times, before God and technology made a way for me the fourth time, I know what it is to be cheated at the polls.
“What they used to do was just to award votes and tell anyone who was dissatisfied to go to court. But we won’t do that. I am prepared to give the opposition the opportunities I was not given in the past.”
He informed the visitors that he had directed the heads of all security agencies to be professional in their work.
He also said the focus of the All Progressives Congress government that he led, remained to fight corruption, insecurity and put the economy on the path of full recovery.
The President added, “We have done fairly well in the areas we focussed on. We know how many local government areas in the North-East were under Boko Haram occupation before we came. That does not happen again, save for cowardly attacks, using young girls as suicide bombers.
“Other areas of security challenge like farmers/herdsmen clashes are receiving attention, and will be sorted out as much as possible.”
He also gave the reason he refused to sign the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill 2018, blaming it on time factor.
“Time is against us. We are extremely vulnerable, and need to be careful that messages are not hijacked and figures tampered with, while being transmitted electronically, he said.
Earlier, Greenfield told Buhari that the delegation had met with various groups in the country, including the media, civil society and political parties.
The delegation noted that the concerns raised by the groups were the partisan role of the security agencies during polls, the non-signing of the Electoral Bill and compromise by the Independent National Electoral Commission.