President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday stirred the hornet’s nest, accusing the administration of Mr Goodluck Jonathan of trying desperately to bend the country’s electoral system against him to prevent his emergence as Nigeria’s president.
Jonathan was the president in 2015 when Buhari contested for the fourth time to become Nigerian president. He was of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, while Buhari contested on the platform of the newly formed coalition, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Jonathan had called Buhari on phone to concede defeat in Nigeria’s ever interparty transition of power. The two presidents have remained close since then.
But a statement on Monday through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, titled ‘Assent into law of the electoral act 2022: Landmark moment for the nation’, alleged underhand tactics to prevent Buhari’s emergence as president at all cost.
The statement said, “It is easy to forget that the election of 2015 was the first time in the history of Nigeria that power peacefully changed hands at the ballot box. It was the first time any party or candidate not from the incumbent PDP had won a nationwide contest since the re-establishment of democracy.
“This came despite the then administration pulling every lever of its sixteen-year incumbency to bend the electoral system to its advantage.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election by a 15 per cent and a 4 million vote margin in 2019 was therefore equally decisive: it was the first time a non-PDP administration had even been returned to office to a consecutive term.
“The last two contests represent the leveling of the political playing-field between long-time incumbents and long-time opposition by sheer force of citizens’ determination for change. Nigerians voted so decisively for the President and the APC, and the margins so significant that the result could not be in doubt.”
The president admitted that the electoral system was riddled with defects and imperfections despite his victory twice at the polls, thus his assent to the Electoral Act 2022 after the controversy that followed it.
The President stressed that the assent underscored the perfect working relationship between parliament and executive that are driven by the energy to deliver change in Nigeria.
“This of course runs parallel to that which we witnessed in the past when self-interest overrode the nation and the fashioning of electoral acts,” the statement continues.
“More than anything else, this law underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring free and fair elections, dignity of the citizens, opportunity, and justice to all political participants whether they are voters or candidates.”
According to Buhari, “This law furthers social empowerment and inclusion by limiting the influence of money on elections and raw power of incumbents to use to the disadvantage of opponents outside the political tent.
“It equally limits the thuggish practice of kingpins who scare voters and officials away, snatch ballot boxes to fill desired outcomes against the popular wish.”