SINCE February 25, 2022 when he assented to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to project an upbeat determination to deliver a free, fair and credible transitional election come February and March 2023.
A president who had, in January this year, said he had a preferred candidate, suddenly allowed the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential primaries to take place without interference.
This was contrary to his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, who influenced the emergence of most of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Governors and handpicked Umaru Yar’ Adua as presidential candidate as well as Goodluck Jonathan as his running mate in 2007.
Buhari has also seized every handy opportunity both at home and abroad to harp on his commitment to credible elections. His assurance that there is no plan to remove Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has also calmed frayed nerves.
The Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, had alleged of plans to remove the INEC Chairman as part of conspiracies against the 2023 elections.
The public is particularly reassured by the Presidency’s affirmation that the proverbial “federal might”, used by incumbent ruling parties to rig elections in favour of their preferred candidates, will not be made available to anyone.
On its own part, the INEC has been at the forefront of the push to digitise our voting process by adopting the electronic accreditation of voters through the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, and the electronic transmission of results from the polling unit to the Commission’s central server.
The system has been tested in several off-cycle election in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun State where they produced credible and acceptable results.
At least so far, the Buhari government and the INEC under it appear to be on the same page and marching together towards a hitch-free credible general election. We hope they continue in that accord until we cross the finish line.
Buhari owes Nigeria a debt of gratitude for giving him his much sought opportunity to serve as an elected president after ruling the country as a military officer.
He has a patriotic duty to carry aloft the banner of free and fair election which enabled him to defeat an incumbent president in 2015. If what we have seen so far of the preparations for the elections are anything to go by, we are likely to have better quality general elections come next year, and Buhari will take the credit for it.
This can only happen if Buhari resists the temptation of being a party man instead of a statesman. His administration failed to deliver a lot of its campaign promises to the people. If he bequeaths free, fair, peaceful and acceptable elections as he promised, he will still be well remembered.