President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday in Daura that he wants to be remembered as a leader who kept his word that elections in Nigeria must be free, fair and credible.
‘‘I have maintained a position that elections must be free and fair and people have the right to make their choices and vote their consciences. I am happy they understood the message and did just that,” the president said, while receiving Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina state who reportedly came to “formally inform him of his election victory” in the governorship poll as though the president does not watch the news.
Contrary evidence: There are many who would argue with evidence that the president’s actions in the past year like failing to sign the amended Electoral Act do not represent someone who genuinely wants to ensure credible elections in the country. But if we take his word for it, the evidence from the 2019 elections shows that he is a long way from that dream. Luckily for him he has another four years to work towards his legacy of credible elections.
Bad Elections: The 2019 election was not as terrible as some of Nigeria’s notorious ones, especially those of 2003 and 2007. However, it arguably recorded no improvements compared to the 2015 polls that brought Buhari to power. Every kind of failing that was seen four years ago, showed up again, and in some cases, it was worst.
EU Election Observation Mission said just yesterday that the elections were “overshadowed by systemic failings, including a lack of transparency, incumbency advantage and a troubling electoral security environment.” The EU condemned the “violence and intimidation, obstruction of citizen observers by the military and security agents and misuse of state-owned media which prevented a level playing field. Their recommendation: There is need for electoral reform!
The problem: Buhari has not shown any keenness to effect electoral reforms in four years, maybe because he was thinking of reelection. Hopefully by 2023, as he retires, he would be able to take the tough decisions and lead reforms, starting with sincere campaign finance reforms as well as a move to e-voting. That’s if he is being sincere about wanting this particular legacy.