Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the era of awarding votes to candidates, brazenly subverting democratic norms and asking those shortchanged by the authorities to go to court is over in Nigeria.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, said Buhari gave this assurance when he received members of the Joint United Nations (UN), African Union and ECOWAS Good Offices Mission on Elections, at the State House, Abuja,
“I am highly qualified to talk on this, having ended at the Supreme Court, three times, after participating in elections with disputed results. Where will a man looking for where his next meal would come from, have money to hire lawyers, particularly senior advocates?” he asked rhetorically.
The president reiterated that the 2019 polls would be free and fair.
“The president has only one vote, governors have a vote each, just like anybody else. Let the people vote for whoever they choose, without their will being tampered with,” Buhari added.
Thanking the joint team for being in touch with Nigerian institutions, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission, the president said multi-party democracy gives lots of choice to the people, and added that Nigeria has a vibrant young population, “who trust us to handle their affairs and resources well. A lot depends on leadership.”
Buhari said the 2015 elections were run with three campaign objectives; securing the country, reviving the economy, fighting corruption, “and the opposition has not succeeded in faulting us. We are doing our best with the resources available to us.”
On his part, President of ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, said the team came on solidarity visit to Nigeria, before the forthcoming elections, as it did with other countries like Senegal, Mali, Gambia, and others, which recently held elections.
Brou appreciated the strong role Nigeria plays in the sub-region, and also, thanked Buhari for his strides in the fight against corruption and terrorism.
Speaking on behalf of the UN, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, appreciated what he called “the strong leadership of president Buhari in Nigeria, West Africa, and Africa.
“You’ve always played politics according to the rules. We will do all that we can to strengthen the institutions. We’re convinced that INEC is ready to provide free and fair elections,” Chambas said.