2023: Coalition Condemns Buhari’s Statement To Handover Power To Tinubu, Shettima

2023: Coalition Condemns Buhari’s Statement To Handover Power To Tinubu, Shettima

By Deborah Musa, Abuja

The Coalition of Nigeria Elders for Electoral Reforms (CNRER), has condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment of handing over power at the expiration of his tenure in 2023 to the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his running mate, Kashmi Shettima Buhari had said this during Shettima’s visit to the Presidential Villa, in Abuja on Thursday.

The group charged the president to provide a level-playing field, as well as equal opportunity for all presidential candidates in the 2023 election, irrespective of which parties they belong. During the visit, Buhari had said, among others, that: “I will respond to your speech when I am handing over to you and your boss. God willing, you are going to win.

“I wish you the best. Your consistency in the party is very respectful. You served your two terms as Governor and finished well.

“You have kept touch with your base. At every important occasion or event, you are maintaining support for the one who succeeded you. This is commendable”.

But, the Coalition has expressed serious concerns over the part of speech where the President said he will hand over to the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his deputy, Shettima.

Specifically, the elders’ group fears that there may be plans to compromise the electoral process, to favour the President’s party, the APC, during the general elections in 2023.

In a statement signed by Dr. Hassan Ibrahim Funtua, and Architect Yemisi Abiola, National President, and National Secretary respectively, (CNRER) urged Buhari to be decorous in his comments, insisting that, as president, his preoccupation should be how to deepen electoral reforms.

This, the group argued, will entrench the true principle of the rule of law, where there is equality before the law, and where processes and procedures are followed to the letter, irrespective of parties involved.

“We are, by this press statement, calling on Mr. President to clear our doubts, by assuring Nigerians of a level-playing ground for all parties involved in the 2023 general elections.

“We hold the firm view, that anything short of the assurance we demand from the leader of the nation, will send (right, or wrong) signals of plans to compromise the electioneering process in favour of the ruling party, which he belongs”, the statement read in part.

The elders reminded Buhari, that one of the legacies of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is the enthronement of a credible electoral act, which culminated in a process that saw his (Buhari’s) emergence in 2015, after defeating the incumbent.

They, therefore, tasked the number one citizen on the urgent need to allow the electorate to elect their preferred choices in next year’s polls, while also insulating the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from partisan dealings.

The statement reads thus: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, during the visit of the Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alh Kashim Shettima, to the Aso Rock Villa.

“We are extremely worried over the President’s declaration that he will answer the vice presidential candidate when he is handing over to him and his boss, Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2023.

“We hold strongly that the statement is grossly unpatriotic, and suspicious to the extent, that the APC may be planning to compromise the Electoral process in favour of its presidential candidate in the 2023 General Election.

“The president’s statement, by inference, suggests that he may have prepared a handover note waiting for the APC candidate, and this is not in line with Global best practices, especially when campaigns have not started.

“While we appreciate the President’s fundamental right of freedom of expression, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), as it relates to his personal support for his political party and its candidate, we hasten to add that the president must remember that he is the President of Nigeria, and all the candidates contesting for the Election are in other political parties and not APC alone.

“The President is hereby urged to remain fair-minded, as well as impartial in his speeches and dispositions, as these will engender confidence in the polity, while also giving all contenders the needed sense of belonging.

“Permit us, Mr. President, to remind you, that you are a product of a level-playing ground, free and credible election, leading to the defeat of a sitting President.

“You, therefore, cannot be seen, or perceived to be subverting the electoral process, as the minimum that is expected from you, is to leave a legacy of an enduring electoral reform”.