BUHARI breaks silence on controversies surrounding last elections

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Following the conduct of the presidential, governorship and legislative elections, the President Muhammadu Buhari ,on Tuesday, in Abuja said he is proud of the Nigerian electorate who have realized their power and “ultimately decided who won or lost.”

However, he expressed sadness that some candidates, especially those of the All Progressives Congress, lost their bid.

“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,” Buhari told the outgoing United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, at the State House, Abuja.

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Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement he signed on Tuesday titled ‘Recent elections proof of nation’s voter vibrancy, maturity, says President Buhari.’

It was reported that the February 25 and March 18 elections, were marred by varying degrees of irregularities and violence which drew criticism from large sections of the electorate and the international community.

Some of the opposition parties have also called for the cancellation of results and a fresh re-run, blaming the Independent National Electoral Commission for failing to transmit results electronically.

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Nonetheless, Buhari said he was “completely satisfied” with his own role in the election process staying above it, without meddling or interfering

He lauded Nigerians for their “remarkable passion towards democracy exhibited through the choices they made in the presidential, National Assembly and the subsequent governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections” saying “Nigeria’s democracy has truly matured.”

According to him, “People are realizing their power. Given the chance of a free and fair vote, nobody can tell them what to do.

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“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 commended the outgoing US Ambassador to Nigeria for the achievements recorded in Nigeria-US relations in the three-and-half years she served.

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He chronicled several challenges faced by Nigeria as the country strives to unite her diverse communities and achieve national development.

Buhari also cited the way the US is holding together as a nation nearly 300 years after it was founded. He expressed the hope that Nigeria will continue to make progress in building a nation out of her different and competitive communities.

He added that he enjoyed working with Mrs Leonard and wished that she had more time to serve here.

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In his answer to a question posed by the diplomat, the president said he plans to be a “big landlord” back at home, working his farms and tending his more than 300 animals.

“I am eager to go,” he said; a narrative he had iterated for months.

In her remarks, the American Ambassador said she was happy with the progress made in Nigeria-US relations in these 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 war planes 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.

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Leonard expressed her gratitude and that of the US government in the continuing role of the president in ensuring regional security and strengthening of 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.

She expressed hope that Buhari would ensure the removal of fuel subsidy even as he prepares to leave office.

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