Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has admonished President Muhammadu Buhari to emulate former president Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 example and resist the temptation of sitting tight if he loses the 2019 presidential election.
Ekweremadu was speaking at the UK parliament, where he delivered a lecture titled ‘African Politics: The Dynamics and Lessons’.
The lawmaker asked Buhari to be conscious of the fact that Nigeria occupied an important place in Africa and must thus set an example in healthy democratic culture.
“Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan put Nigeria on the global map as a leading democratic nation when he put in everything to ensure a free and fair election, in which he not only lost the presidential poll as an incumbent, but also willingly conceded defeat.
“In fact, he called the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, and congratulated him even before the announcement of the final results. In addition, neither former President Jonathan nor the PDP challenged the outcome of the election in court.
“Therefore, to whom much is given, much is also expected. The onus is now on President Buhari to likewise provide a level-playing ground and show uncommon statesmanship if he and his party lose the 2019 presidential election. That way, Africa’s biggest democracy will further entrench the culture of peaceful and smooth transfer of power from a ruling party to the opposition in both Nigeria and Africa”, Uche Anichukwu, spokesman to Ekweremadu, quoted him as saying.
Ekweremadu was also reported as warning Buhari of the consequences of “manipulating” the 2019 election, advising him to spearhead a free and fair election.
He added that African countries should harness technological advantage in the whole electoral process.
“Any attempt to manipulate the 2019 elections to the advantage of self or party will not augur well for peace and democracy not only in Nigeria, but the entire continent,” he said.
“Important too, in the present age of technology, I will like to see the countries of Africa deploying the latest technology in voter registration, vote counting, and announcement of results.
“We must ensure that the process is sufficiently transparent and unarguably so, such that losers will see and be convinced that they lost fairly. That way, election tribunals will be eliminated.”
He also criticised African leaders who choose to hold on to power at the expense of the people.
“Many African leaders do not seem to care about the law of diminishing returns, but you can never cheat nature. From Zimbabwe under former Robert Mugabe to Uganda under Yoweri Museveni, Cameroon Paul Biya; Equatorial Guinea under Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo,who has been in power since 1979; Republic of Congo under Denis Sassou Nguesso who ruled from 1979 to 1992 and returned again since 1997; and not also forgetting Togo under late President Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the country for 38 years and now under his son, Faure Gnassingbe, who continued from where his father stopped amidst rising political tension, the story has not been pleasant.
“Likewise, the sit-tight postures of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s 28 years old regime in Sudan, President Idriss Deby’s 27-year rule in Chad, President Isaias Afwerki’s 24 years old leadership in Eritrea, President Paul Kagame’s 17 years old reign in Rwanda, and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika 18 years in power in Algeria are soul-dampening.
“There are also emerging sit-tight regimes in Mauritania under Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, Burundi under Pierre Nkurunziza, etc. President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who succeeded his father, the late Laurent Kabila, in 2001, has refused to step down after the expiration of his mandate. This has triggered political tension and protests in that country. This is disheartening”, he said.
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