President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians and the international community of free and fair elections when citizens go to the polls to elect a new leader in 2023.
He gave the assurance on Friday at a Virtual Summit for Democracy organised by President Joe Biden of the United States, saying necessary mechanisms would be strengthened to ensure Nigeria witnesses another peaceful transfer of power.
“As we countdown to our next general elections in 2023, we remain committed to putting in place and strengthening all necessary mechanisms to ensure that Nigeria will not only record another peaceful transfer of power to an elected democratic government but will also ensure that the elections are conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
“Your Excellencies, Nigeria will continue to actively support the democratisation processes in our region West Africa and the African continent at large. But regrettably, our democratic gains of the past decades are under threats of unconstitutional takeover of power.
“This unwholesome trend, sometimes in reaction to unilateral amendments of constitutions by some leaders, must not be tolerated by the international community. Nigeria fully supports the efforts by ECOWAS to address this growing challenge and appreciates the support of both the African Union and the United Nations.”
President Buhari lamented that Nigeria has continued to face security challenges that pose a threat to democracy, and called on global partners to support the government’s efforts in tackling insurgency and terrorism.
The country, he said, has had over two decades of uninterrupted democratic governance and has unequivocally remained committed to upholding the core values and principles of democracy.
“Since assuming office in 2015, we have been able to introduce mechanisms to ensure free, fair, and credible elections,” he told the summit. “We have strengthened our key anti-corruption agencies in collaboration with international partners and have undertaken several anti-corruption measures and initiatives.”
Safeguarding Democratic Values
The President thanked his American counterpart, as well as the government and people of the United States for hosting the summit.
Noting that democracy has remained the most popular and universally recognised way of governance, he believes it is the only system of governance that guarantees freedom of speech, rule of law, respect for human rights, and inclusiveness in governance.
Democracy, he added, also promotes social justice, economic and social development, and national and global peace.
“However, in spite of these laudable qualities, more is required from us as members of democratic societies, particularly in ensuring that democratic institutions and processes are strengthened, particularly during this period of a global pandemic which has threatened social cohesion in most democracies.
“We, therefore, must remain resolute and enhance cooperation, so that together, we build back better democratic institutions and sustainable democratic values,” President Buhari stated.
According to him, the summit is taking place at a time when democratic institutions around the world were facing several challenges.
The President was hopeful that the event would help promote a positive agenda for democratic renewal by focusing on some of the major challenges faced by democracies in recent times.
Through collective action, he is confident that countries can safeguard democratic values and principles.
President Buhari also decried the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which made it impossible to convene a physical meeting, saying it has taken a heavy toll on economies, health, and democratic processes around the world.
“Nevertheless, we have witnessed the resilience of democratic institutions in many countries that have held free, fair, and transparent democratic elections under very challenging conditions,” he said.