Nigeria has left that era in which democratic norms were brazenly subverted, with votes awarded to those favoured by the authorities, and the deprived told to go to court if they were not happy, President Muhammadu Buhari, has declared.
President Buhari made the declaration yesterday while receiving members of the Joint United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS Good Offices Mission on Elections at the State House in Abuja.
“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?” he asked rather rhetorically.
He assured that the 2019 polls would be free and fair, stressing that, “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.”
Thanking the joint team for being in touch with our institutions, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the President said multi-party democracy gives lots of choice to the people, adding that Nigeria has a vibrant young population “who trust us to handle their affairs and resources well. A lot depends on leadership.”
The President 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.”
In his remarks, President of ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, said the team came on a solidarity visit to Nigeria before the forthcoming elections, as it did with other countries like Senegal, Mali, Gambia, and others which recently held their polls.
He appreciated the strong role Nigeria plays in the sub-region, while also thanking the President for his strides in the fight against corruption and terrorism.
Speaking on behalf of the UN visiting team, 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,” he said.
Ex-Kaduna gov settles for Buhari
Meanwhile, Buhari’s candidature received further boost yesterday, with a former Kaduna state Governor and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, saying irrespective of whatever his shortcomings are, Buhari remains a better option than former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in 2019.
He said, though Buhari may have failed Nigerians, Atiku would fail more if elected president. According to him, forces backing the former VP won’t allow him perform when he gets into office.
Musa made the position known in an interview with Premium Times.
He said: “Buhari has failed but Atiku will fail even more because of Atiku’s connection with some forces, among them former presidents whoare on the root of the rot we are now facing in this country.”
“For Atiku to align with them for whatever reason is more dangerous than Buhari.
“Because all they have to tell Nigerians is that they want to defeat Buhari, but is that all Nigerians want to know?
“Nigerians want to know what is the qualitative and demonstrative character and differences between Atiku and Buhari and between APC and PDP.
“There is nothing; so it’s a question of choice between two devils. So, the only thing is that if we are faced with such a situation and we can’t have a credible alternative like we had when former President Badamasi Babangida established two political parties.
“One to the left and other one to the right calling one SDP and the other NRC, and if you want to participate in politics then you have no choice but to select one of the two and there was
nothing you could do about it.
“So if we are still faced with that kind of situation today, whether you support Atiku or Buhari or support PDP or APC — which we don’t pray to have such a situation. But if we do face such situation, then it’s better to support Buhari because he is a lesser problem to Atiku.
“Because Atiku with him being rich and with the support of those forces, we will have a greater task in handling him,” he said.
On whether the former VP Abubakar’s business experience can help revive the nation’s economy, Alhaji Musa said the country does not need a business man to control its destiny.
According to him, “it’s the question of private enterprise versus public enterprise. If we really don’t want to risk this economy, then we have to rely on the state to lead the economy.
“We can’t take up the economy by depending on private enterprise. What is the character of Nigeria’s private enterprise? It’s simply parasitic.
“It was created not even by the colonialists. It’s created by corruption and it was when the military came that we have these corrupts private enterprises.
“The choice of these people that we have now who are the merchants in private enterprise arose from the product of corruption.
“How can you rely on them to build a nation? Whether we like it or not, we need a system whereby the state plays a role in the economy.
“Up till 1970, we registered some progress throughout the country on the basis of the state controlling the economy.
“Even though we are not saying that there is no private enterprise, but the public and private enterprises should compete under the leadership of public enterprise because it is the public that can control the destiny of the people, not private enterprise that is only interested in profits, maximization of profits. That’s all.
“Buhari relies on his credibility only but what about Atiku? He relies only on his wealth. Buhari’s level of power to decide as an individual is very limited, and you can use democratic process to control him whether he likes it or not.
“But how can you control Atiku, who is so wealthy and with the forces behind him. This is why I said it’s better to rely on Buhari despite his failure,” he further contended.
In a related development, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has assured that the Buhari-led administration won’t deceive Nigerians.
The Vice President spoke while featuring yesterday on Brekete Family, a reality radio talk magazine programme, anchored by Human Rights Radio in Abuja.
“The focus of our government is on how things can be better for the common man. We are not in the business of trying to deceive Nigerians. You can accuse myself and the President of anything, but you will never find us deceiving Nigerians,” he said.
While making references to the present administration’s National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP), Osinbajo said the federal government was able to do so much more with less resources.
He said: “The President has ensured that nobody steals money from the treasury. The major problem Nigeria had before now was the fact that people stole from the nation’s coffers. Once the country is able to stop corruption, it would be better.
“The first thing we did was tackle unemployment by employing young men and women through the N-Power job scheme, which has so far employed 500,000 young graduates.
“Every state has N-Power and there are plans to employ more because of the number of graduates. This is a social safety net for young unemployed Nigerian graduates. So far, we have given about 400,000 Market Moni loans, but the target is to give one million loans to artisans and traders, while Trader Moni loans is a N10,000 interest-free loans to petty traders, of which two million are expected to be reached in the first phase,” he said.
The Vice President also highlighted federal government’s Energising Economies Initiative which provides clean, affordable and constant power to economic clusters such as big markets and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the country.
“Power is a major problem in Nigeria and our efforts is to solve this through alternative energy such as solar power. We are not relying on the national grid alone. We are also encouraging the private sector to provide power. The new strategy of the government is to put power in different places so as to make life easy for Nigerians without relying on the national grid. We are still
working on the national grid. This country is very big, that’s why we have to decentralize,” he said.