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Democracy Day: We’ve experienced rough times, Buhari admits

Democracy Day: We’ve experienced rough times, Buhari admits

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…faults SGF for not inviting Orubebe to lecture

Olalekan Adetayo, Alexander Okere  and Gibson Achonu

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday assessed the three years of his administration and admitted that he had experienced rough times.

He, however, said through good governance, he had not allowed the challenges to overwhelm him.

Buhari spoke in Abuja at the 2018 Democracy Day Lecture organised to mark the third anniversary of his administration.

A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, delivered the lecture titled “Peace-building and good governance for sustainable development in Nigeria.”

“We have experienced rough times, but through good governance, we have not allowed ourselves to be overawed by the existing challenges.

“Weak governance is often at the core of rising inequality and unequal development resulting in social disruption and political unrest with negative impacts on growth and development,” the President told the gathering that included President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

Buhari said his administration had engaged in several rounds of dialogue and town hall meetings targeted at peace-building between the aggrieved and in some cases warring factions and communities.

The President added, “Our resolve to fight corruption was informed by the realisation that reducing corruption and ensuring the effective and just utilisation of public resources are crucial for achieving sustainable growth and development in Nigeria.

“Corruption has been at the root of most of the development challenges of our country. There can be no progress in any facet of our national life unless we tackle and curb corruption.”

Meanwhile, the President faulted the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation that organised the event for not inviting a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsay Orubebe, to the lecture.

Orubebe during the release of the result of the 2015 presidential election had attempted to disrupt the process.

Buhari said the organisers should have invited Orubebe to attend the lecture delivered by Jega, who he confronted at the presidential election collation centre.

The President said, “Here, I must digress to raise an observation about the programme organisers because I did not see Mr. Orubebe, who ought to have come and listened to Prof. Jega deliver his lecture. This is a major observation.

“That instance, for those of us who were lucky that there was electricity supply and we had the television to see the confrontation between Orubebe and Prof. Jega, it will remain a life impression.

“The other one (observation) is Prof. Jega’s briefing to the government, the opposition and the military before the date of the election was finally agreed on.

“Prof. Jega, it was not surprising, briefed us of his activities between 2011 and 2015: the recruitment, equipping and training of INEC officials, that gave those of us who were lucky to get the report the courage that nothing outside the Constitution of Nigeria would be accepted by the opposition. So, the question of an interim administration or postponing the election for more than 90 days should not be on the table.

“I thank the United States Government then under President (Barack) Obama for sending John Kerry to read the riot act to the government and to us the opposition then that nothing other than a free and fair election would be acceptable.”

Meanwhile, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, have expressed confidence that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria.

Obaseki, in a Democracy Day message made available to journalists on Monday,  said, “Despite the challenges, we have faced in our effort to firmly establish our democratic institutions and deepen the values, the non-interruption of our democracy since 1999, is proof of its overwhelming popularity and acceptance.

“Democracy in Nigeria has come to stay and what is expected in the circumstance is for all hands to be on deck so that we can build a democratic Nigeria of our collective dream and aspiration, and where peace and unity abound,” Okorocha said.

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