President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, and other traditional rulers from the South-West at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The Ooni, who spoke after the meeting, said the meeting was not political.
Rather, he told State House correspondents, that they met with Buhari to discuss issues affecting the South-West geopolitical zone, especially on how to douse tension ahead of the polls.
He noted that the youths in particular were central to the success of the elections, adding that much should be done to advise them against violence.
He said, “The elections are so close and obviously tension will build. What is critical is for us to know that Nigeria is greater than all of us.”
He added, “They will come and they will go but Nigeria will remain. We traditional rulers who are very fortunate to still be alive, we have experienced many presidents, many governors. A President cannot use more than eight years, that is in the constitution of Nigeria; so Nigeria is greater than the President whose maximum tenure is eight years.
“So, our message to everyone in Nigeria is that please, especially Nigerian youths, go and vote for whoever you want to vote for. Mr President even said it by himself; it is not a do-or-die affair. Whoever you want to use your power of your thumb for, go ahead and do it.”
On the mission of the royal fathers, he said, “We are not here for politics. We are fathers of all, very close to our people, the only politics we understand is the politics of development. We are here to talk about development for our people in all the states of the south western Nigeria.
“We are here to point out the good things Mr President has been doing, especially the cordial relationship with the Vice-President, who is from the South-West.
“We are here to further request from Mr President good things that we want for our various states. When you are doing good, you will first of all appreciate the good things before asking for more.
“What is critical for us here is to champion development for our people. We spoke about the inclusion of youths in the current government and also women’s inclusion. In terms of demography of voting pattern, we know that everything rests on the shoulders of Nigerian youths, we want to see them in this cabinet.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency, in a statement after the meeting, said Buhari urged the monarchs to use their good offices as royal fathers to talk to their subjects and preach peaceful elections.
“Those who fear that their persons or their policies cannot win elections may resort to incitement to violence,” the statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying.
Among the royal fathers were the Alake of Egbaland; the Ayangburen of Ikorodu; the Oloye of Oye Ekiti; the Olukare of Ikare Akure; the Aseyin of Iseyin; Deji of Akur; and the Alayemore of Ido Osun.