President Muhammadu Buhari described yesterday how he advised voters to solicit donations from candidates who promised to pay for their votes in the elections on February 25 and March 18, but to cast their ballots in accordance with their moral convictions.
He added that Nigerians had demonstrated that they were capable of choosing who would lead them without having anyone tell them what to do, given the chance for a free and fair election and non-interference as witnessed in the polls.
The president said that Nigeria’s democracy had fully developed as a result of the amazing enthusiasm for democracy displayed by Nigerians in their voting decisions during the presidential, National Assembly, and following governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
In a statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying: “People are realising their power. Given the chance of a free and fair vote, nobody can tell them what to do. I am unhappy that some candidates lost in the election.
“But I am inspired by the fact that voters were able to make their own decision, to decide who won and who lost. With the currency change, there was no money to spread around but even then, I told voters to take the money and vote according to their consciences.”
The president, who spoke at a farewell meeting with the outgoing United States Ambassador, Mary Beth Leonard, at the State House in Abuja, said he was completely satisfied with his role in the election process.
He commended the outgoing ambassador for the enormous achievements recorded in Nigeria-US relations in the three-and-half years she had been here.
In an answer to a question posed by Ambassador Leonard, President Buhari said he planned to be a “big landlord” back at home, working on his farms and tending his more than 300 animals, adding: “I am eager to go.”
the establishment of a five-year visa regime between the two nations; active cooperation in security and the supply of military hardware including warplanes and the soon-to-arrive fighter helicopters; and cooperation in the health sector to fight HIV and COVID response; the American Ambassador expressed satisfaction with the progress made in Nigeria-US relations in the past three and a half years and expressed assurances that the US will continue to support these efforts.
Ambassador Leonard expressed her gratitude, as well as that of the US government, for the President’s ongoing efforts to uphold regional stability and enhance democracy as a form of governance, praising in particular his resolute response to the recent upsurge in coups in West Africa.