PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has again claimed that Nigeria’s electoral process was free, fair and credible under his administration.
Buhari, in a nationwide 7am broadcast on Sunday, May 28, said he would be leaving behind when he exits as President tomorrow an electoral process that guarantees that every Nigerian vote counts, adding that his administration had reduced the influence of money in politics to its barest minimum.
The President’s claims are despite the widespread reported cases of electoral irregularities and violence in the 2023 general elections.
Following the closely contested polls, allegations of voter suppression, irregularities in the electoral process, and concerns over transparency have cast a doubt over the credibility of the results.
The two main opposition parties are still in court contesting the outcome of the elections due, among other reasons, to the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit the results using the Bimodal Voter’s Accreditation System (BVAS) at the polling station and uploading of results to the viewing centre (IREV).
The ICIR reported many reported cases of irregularities during the 2019 and 2023 general elections.
During the 2023 general elections, this platform documented how many Nigerians were disenfranchised due to INEC ad-hoc officers’ lateness to designation polling units, malfunction of BVAS in some polling units, and widespread electoral violence, among others.
According to an analysis published by The ICIR, the 2023 elections fell short of the promises and expectations of Nigerians, in spite of the deployment of world-class and highly expensive technology.
“In the presidential election, the electoral umpire’s failure to upload results from polling units granted fraudsters the opportunity to intimidate electoral officials and subsequently announce doubtful results resisted by opposition parties. The governorship elections, promised to be an improvement on the presidential election, was also totally disappointing,” the report noted.
In another report, the Centre for Democracy and Development’s (CDD) Election Analysis Centre (EAC) called for an end to “electoral impunity” in Nigeria in order for democracy to deepen in the country.
This is contained in the centre’s preliminary report on the supplementary governorship elections that held in five states of the federation on Saturday, March 23.
The report showed that there were widespread instances of violence, vote buying, voter intimidation, underage voting, and harassment of journalists in several of the polling units where the supplementary elections were held across Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states.
The outgoing President, however, remains resolute in his assertion that the election was conducted fairly.
He expressed confidence in the electoral system.
He said, “To ensure that our democracy remains resilient and our elected representatives remain accountable to the people, I am leaving behind an electoral process that guarantees that votes count, results are credible, elections are fair and transparent, and the influence of money in politics is reduced to the barest minimum. And Nigerians can elect leaders of their choice.
“We are already seeing the outcome of this process as it provided an even playing field where persons without any political godfather or access to money defeated other well-resourced candidates.”
Buhari also said that Nigeria witnessed the most keenly contested presidential elections since the first republic, adding that it demonstrated that the country democracy was getting better.
“This year, we witnessed the most keenly contested presidential elections since the first republic, and this demonstrates that our democracy is getting better and more entrenched with each election.
“We must as a nation improve and sustain gains we make in the electoral process on an incremental basis for Nigeria to take its rightful place among nations,” he said.