In recent months, Nigeria’s President Mohammed has repeated his wish to bequeath in Nigeria a legacy of a free, fair, and credible election at the end of his tenure. By his persistent emphasis, it could be safely inferred that the President would attempt to influence the wish of the Nigerian people as may be expressed
In recent months, Nigeria’s President Mohammed has repeated his wish to bequeath in Nigeria a legacy of a free, fair, and credible election at the end of his tenure. By his persistent emphasis, it could be safely inferred that the President would attempt to influence the wish of the Nigerian people as may be expressed at the 2023 polls which would start on February 25, 2023, with the presidential and National Assembly elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier in August 2023 told APC governors during a courtesy visit to him that his government will not interfere in the coming elections. According to Mr. Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesperson, Buhari told the governors that “non-interference in elections gives credence to the political process, ensures participation and inclusiveness, and shows that the governing party respects the electorate.
The president said further that he was impressed by the recent governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun, where he did not also interfere. APC lost the governorship elections in Anambra and Osun states but won in Ekiti state.
“I want Nigerians to know that we respect them, and for us to show that we will allow them to vote who they want. We all witnessed what happened in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States. What happened in those states gives me a lot of hope that we are succeeding,” Buhari said.
President Muhammadu Buhari assured Nigerians that the governing party, All Progressives Congress (APC), will continue to bequeath strong political institutions that reflect their choices, through non-interference in elections.
President Buhari went further to give fillip to this theme in his speech at the United Nations when he declared “As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair and transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.
Expounding his views on democracy further, President Buhari said “Democracy is an idea that crosses time and borders. Certainly, democracy does have its limitations. The wheels of democracy turn slowly. It can demand compromises that dilute decisions. Sometimes, it bends too much to special interests that exercise influence, not always for the general good, in a manner disproportionate to their numbers. But it has been my experience that a democratic culture provides a government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change”.
Again, in his October 1, Independence Day address President Buhari continued to dwell on the same theme when he said: “Fellow Nigerians, no matter what gains we make, without a good governance system anchored on electing credible leaders on the basis of free, fair, credible and transparent elections, our efforts would not be enough.
“It is for this reason that I have resolved to bequeath a sustainable democratic culture which will remain lasting. The signing of the Electoral Act 2021 as amended with landmark provisions further assures us of a more transparent and inclusive Electoral Process.
“Having witnessed at close quarters, the pains, anguish and disappointment of being a victim of an unfair electoral process, the pursuit of an electoral system and processes that guarantee election of leaders by citizens remains the guiding light as I prepare to wind down our administration”.
Given the significance of the occasions at which President Buhari made his commitment to a credible, free and fair elections, there is no doubting his sincerity of purpose. Viewed against the backdrop of respect the International Community continue to accord former Head of State General Abdulsalam Abubakar and President Goodluck Jonathan for their commitment to democracy, there is a possibility President Buhari would like to join their league and be perceived well by the international community through his proper handling of matters relating to the 2023 elections.
For a man who led a military putsch to overthrow a democratically elected government, there is no doubt President Buhari has turned full circle democrat since his emergence as democratically elected President in 2015. His commitment and fulfillment to bequeath a legacy of overseeing a credible, free, and fair election in Nigeria will help strengthen our institutions involved in the conduct of the elections.
The ball is now in the court of the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission to build on the President’s avowed commitment and strengthen its courage to conduct an election that will be adjudged both locally and internationally as credible, free and fair. It is also desirable for our security agencies to take a cue from the pronouncements of their Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and stay neutral by supporting the INEC to deliver on its mandate.
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