President Muhammadu Buhari
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, narrated how he told the electorate to collect money from candidates that offered money to them to buy their votes in the February 25 and March 18 elections but vote according to their conscience.
He also said given the chance of a free and fair election as well as non-interference as witnessed in the elections, Nigerians had proved to be capable of deciding who led them without anyone telling them what to do.
The president, who expressed satisfaction with the remarkable passion towards democracy exhibited by Nigerians through the choices they made in the presidential, National Assembly and the subsequent governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, said Nigeria’s democracy had truly matured.
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.”
In her remarks, the American Ambassador said she was happy with the progress made in Nigeria-US relations in the three–and–half years, specifically citing the recent institution 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-come fighter helicopters; and also cooperation in the health sector to fight HIV and COVID response, giving assurances that US will continue to assist in the strengthening of Nigeria’s health sector.
Ambassador Leonard expressed her gratitude and that of the US government for the continuing role of the President in ensuring regional security and strengthening democracy as a system of government, citing his strong response against the recent surge of coups-d’état in West Africa as worthy of commendation.
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