President Muhammadu Buhari described yesterday how he advised voters to solicit donations from candidates who offered 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 also stated that when given the opportunity for a free and fair election, as well as non-interference, Nigerians demonstrated their ability to choose who led them without anyone directing them what to do.
The president claimed Nigeria’s democracy had truly evolved after expressing delight with the amazing zeal for democracy displayed by Nigerians in the presidential, National Assembly, and subsequent gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, cited Buhari as stating in a statement: “People are realising their power.” Nobody can tell people what to do if they have the opportunity to vote freely and fairly. I am disappointed that some candidates did not win the election.
“However, I am inspired by the idea that people were able to make their own decisions about who won and who lost. There was no money to distribute due to the currency shift, but I nevertheless advised voters to take the money and vote according to their consciences.”
The president said he was totally satisfied with his role in the electoral process during a farewell meeting with outgoing US Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard at the State House in Abuja.
He praised the departed ambassador for the significant achievements she has made in Nigeria-US relations during her three-and-a-half years here.
In response to a query from Ambassador Leonard, President Buhari stated that he intended to be a “big” leader “Landlord” is back at home, working on his farms and caring for his more than 300 animals, and he adds, “I am eager to go.”
In her remarks, the American Ambassador expressed satisfaction with the progress made in Nigeria-US relations over the last three and a half years, citing the recent establishment of a five-year visa regime between the two countries; active collaboration in security and the supply of military hardware including warplanes and the soon-to-be fighter helicopters; and cooperation in the health sector to fight HIV and COVID response, assuring that the US will continue to provide support.
Ambassador Leonard expressed her and the US government’s appreciation for the President’s continued role in ensuring regional security and strengthening democracy as a system of government, citing his strong response to the recent surge of coups-d’état in West Africa as commendable.