I’M A CLEAR SUCCESSOR TO FREE AND FAIR ELECTION, WILL BEQUEATH SAME:
President of federal republic of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, has said that as a beneficiary of 2015 free and fair election he would do the same to his successor in 2023 general election.
The President Buhari who spoke at a dinner with his 2019 presidential election legal team on Thursday in Abuja recalls that the turnout of Nigerians during his 2019 presidential campaigns to the 36 states of the Federation gave him the boldness to affirmed that re-election was not by surprise.
‘‘The number of people that turned out in every state across the country was more than anybody can buy or force.
‘‘This gave me so much confidence and the election proved that with the votes I got.
‘‘That is why I insist that elections must be free and fair because I am a clear successor to a free and fair election,’’ he said.
He told the legal team that he was prepared to hand over peacefully to a successor in 2023, stating that nothing will ever change his decision.
‘‘Morally I want to have a clear conscience. I swore by the Holy Book that I will abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘‘I will continue to do my best and I hope that by 2023, I can handover quietly to whoever succeeds me and I wish him the best of luck,’’ he said.
The President eulogied the legal team headed by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN for their excellent legal successes recorded in the presidential election petition in 2019.
The President commended the team for their professional legal strategy that thrived in piloting his presidential election litigation.
‘‘You creditably demonstrated a deep understanding of the law and its practices and I am indeed proud of you all.
‘‘I am confident that by securing a convincing and unanimous legal victory at the Supreme Court you have by so doing ensured that the political mandate of the Nigerian electorate is now firmly secured,’’ he said.
President Buhari also said, that the legal team’s enough contributions have justified the rule of law and further entrenched democratic governance in Nigeria.
‘‘This legal team is an assemblage of some of the most scholarly legal teams ever assembled in this country.
‘‘I must note that the aforesaid legal successes recorded through your excellence have assisted me in fulfilling this government’s desire for a better Nigeria,’’ he said.
Speaking on behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Mr President told the team to accept his gratitude and best wishes for their worthy service.
In his statement, the lead counsel, Chief Olanipekun said the legal victory was won based on the facts of the law, stressing that the President never used his position or office to influence the decision of the Courts.
According to the lead counsel: “The courts were allowed to do their job, Mr President and I must commend you for that Sir. Nobody whispered to anyone of us, how we are going to see Judge A or Judge B. That’s the way it should be. Judges must be allowed and be given free hand to do their job.
‘‘Mr President, we are happy to have been called upon and we are happy that we delivered. ’’
Mr Olanipekun who spoke on electoral reforms said that while the National Assembly was doing something about the Electoral Act, the Act requires some ‘‘rejigging and cleansing.’’
‘‘We are happy to know that the National Assembly is doing something about the Electoral law.
‘‘We are ready to cooperate with them without taking a dime, whether as consultants, whether as legal practitioners, whether as experts. If the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) will co-opt us we are ready to give assistance,’’ says Olanipekun.
Olanipekun commended the President’s commitment to the rule of law, saying ‘‘it is the surest legacy Mr President can bequeath to our dear nation.’’
Image: Muhammadu Buhari’s picture