President Muhammadu Buhari has again said next year’s elections will be “free, fair and credible”.
He said “manipulations will not be allowed in any shape or form.
President Buhari restated the pledge in Abuja while playing host to the West African Elders Forum Pre-Election Mediation Mission.
“Thank you for accepting to do this service for our sub-region,” he told his guests, citing the success of off-season elections held in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States, and referring to them as “pointers” to the fact that the Federal Government would allow people to “choose leaders they want”.
“That right is guaranteed,” President Buhari affirmed. “We are settling down, and making progress. People should vote for whomever they want, in whatever party. We shall not allow anyone to use money and thugs to intimidate the people. Nigerians know better now; they are wiser and know that it is better to dialogue than to carry weapons. Elections are even more difficult to rig now.”
Former Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma led the team, comprising a former-Vice President of the Gambia, Fatoumata Tambajang; former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas (from Ghana); and Executive Director, Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Ann Iyonu.
The delegation said they had met with stakeholders across the parties, civil society, and Independent National Electoral Commission, and commended President Buhari for making it clear both locally and internationally that the elections would be free and fair.
They also commended the Nigerian leader for not listening to voices that might have attempted to convince him to seek a third term in office, noting that other countries look up to Nigeria for direction.
“When we had issues in Sierra Leone and Liberia, it was Nigeria that came in to stabilize the system,” former President Ernest Bai Koroma said.
He urged President Buhari to “look into other areas of concern” as raised by the stakeholders, including security, and “issues that might cast doubts on the clarity and credibility of the elections”.
Reporting by Abdullah Bello; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino and Tony Okerafor