President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja has said that the era of election rigging with impunity is gone forever.
The president said the is no more room for situations whereby democratic norms were brazenly subverted and votes awarded to some politicians while those shortchanged were told to go to court.
Buhari made this known while receiving members of the Joint United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS Good Offices Mission on Elections at the State House.
According to a statement by the president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari argued that he was in a better position to make such a submission having gone to court thrice.
He said, “I am highly qualified to talk on this, having ended in 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?”
The president reassured his guests that the 2019 polls would be free and fair, quoting him further as saying, “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.”
The statement added that Buhari thanked the joint team for its interest in Nigeria’s institutions, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It also said the president noted that multi-party democracy gave the people a lot of choices, adding that Nigeria had a vibrant young population, “who trust us to handle their affairs and resources well. A lot depends on leadership.”
The statement also said the president restated how the 2015 elections were run with three campaign objectives.
According to Adesina, Buhari listed such objectives as 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.”
He added that the President of ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, in his remarks, said the team came on a solidarity visit to Nigeria before the forthcoming elections, as it had done with other countries such as Senegal, Mali, Gambia, among others, which recently held elections.
The statement added that Chambas appreciated the strong role Nigeria has played in the sub-region, while also thanking Buhari for his efforts in the fight against corruption and terrorism.
It also said Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas while speaking on behalf of the UN, appreciated what he called ‘the strong leadership of President Buhari in Nigeria, West Africa, and Africa.
It quoted him as saying, “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.”