Amidst mounting pressure and criticisms by some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of President Muhammadu Buhari alleged failure to intervene in the incoming March 23 supplementary governorship elections, the Nigerian leader has declared that he would not do so.
In fact, Buhari yesterday cautioned against hate spewing, incitement to violence and polarising statements by some political leaders as some states brace up for supplementary elections fixed by the National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conclude the inconclusive elections held on March 9, 2019.
Through his senior special assistant on media, Mallam Garba Shehu, the president yesterday rejected the “unfair and ridiculous criticisms” of his silence on the planned elections in some states by APC leaders who want him to abuse his power by changing the results of the poll to favour them.
Shehu said that some past presidents of Nigeria were known to interfere in inconclusive elections, adding that this may have accounted for “why party members appear to be upset that the same thing is not happening now, but President Buhari is a different kind of leader.” He noted that the president swore to defend the constitution and would not veer off from that.
Last week, two embattled APC governors, whose second term bid is under threat, as they came behind their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) opponents in the inconclusive elections, rushed to the presidential villa to allegedly seek Buhari’s help.
The president was said to have refused to receive them, forcing the governors to turn to the direction of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. After the meeting with Osinbajo, the governors came out and refused to speak with State House correspondents on their mission and the outcome of their talks with the vice president.
But yesterday, Shehu said that the constitution of Nigeria gives the president no such powers to interfere in any election matter, stressing that it was unfair and ridiculous to criticise Buhari for not going against the constitution.
He said: “Party members in states where there will be supplementary elections then need to be reminded that they need to work hard to earn their people’s votes, rather than expect President Buhari to manipulate INEC in their favour.
“Interestingly, while members of the ruling APC were criticising the president for not interfering on their behalf, members of the opposition were condemning the president based on their assumptions that he would definitely interfere, as many in the opposition, did while in power.
“Under President Buhari, INEC has been and will be completely independent throughout the elections, free from any interference. President Buhari is a man of conviction, and the manipulation of election results goes against everything he stands for, INEC is completely in charge,” he said.