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NIGERIA AT 58: “I am committed to ensuring free, fair elections” — Buhari, four days after disrupted Osun rerun


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FOUR days after the alleged state-sponsored violence, gunshots and irregularities were reported to have characterised the rerun governorship election in Osun State, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured of his continued commitment to free and fair elections.

He made this remark on Monday while delivering the annual Independence Day speech.

I have committed myself many times to ensure that elections are fully participatory, free and fair,” the President said during the broadcast,” and that the Independent National Electoral Commission would be exactly independent and properly staffed and resourced.”

“The ballot box is how we make our choice for the governments that rule in our name,” he added.

In contrast, however, journalists at the rerun held in four local government areas in Osun State confirmed that accredited observers were denied access to some polling units, voters were prevented from exercising their right and turned back home, and thugs occupied some polling units under the watch of security personnel.

“Despite the presence of scores of security personnel at Polling Unit one, Ward eight in Orolu Local Government Area, thugs are in control of the unit,” Premium Times reported.

Kemi Busari, a reporter working with Premium Times, was briefly arrested and detained for daring to take photographs of a polling unit, while thugs confiscated a phone belonging to Taiwo Adebulu, a journalist with TheCable, as policemen watched. Others were reportedly attacked by hoodlums.

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In reaction to happenings during the election, Daily Trust tweeted: “We report to the whole world that in Osun today no supplementary poll took place. It was all violence and undisguised breaching of all electoral rules. The APC is pushing violently to steal people’s mandate freely given by the oppressed people of Osun state.”

The All Progressives Congress, APC, has since not reacted officially to the damning allegations, except for a slip by Adams Oshiomhole, the party chairman who mistakenly said: “Only people who can accept the pain of rigging … should participate in an election.”

In his speech, Buhari also dedicated many lines to the fight against corruption, economic growth, insecurity in the country, climate change, and youth empowerment.

He cautioned against the abuse of technology and the use of social media to “provoke passions and stir tensions”.

“We must all rise to the responsibility of shutting out those disruptive and corrosive forces that hide in today’s world of social media,” he appealed.

“We need critical minds and independent thinking, to question and question until we are satisfied we have the facts. Otherwise, all the progress we have made as a democracy since 1999 is at stake.”

In his concluding remarks, the President assured Nigerians his administration is on the right path and called for unity. He also said he will continue to strive for a country where there is peace, prosperity, security and non-discrimination.

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“We have so much for which we should be grateful, and in which we should rightly take pride,” he said.

“Our journey is not finished but we have come a long way. I want to assure you that as President, I will continue to work tirelessly to promote, protect and preserve what really matters: a united, peaceful, prosperous and secure Nigeria, where all, irrespective of background, can aspire to succeed.”

'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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