The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that his administration not only conducts a credible, free and fair election next year, but also be prepared to accept in good faith, the outcome of the election should he and his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), fail to win the presidential contest.
This was as he decried the sit-tight syndrome in Africa, which he described as a grave danger to African democracies.
Ekweremadu spoke at the United Kingdom (UK) parliament where he delivered a lecture titled: “African Politics: The Dynamics and Lessons”.
Drawing inspiration from the words of the former South African president, late Nelson Mandela, Ekweremadu noted that his admonition became necessary due to the pivotal and strategic roles Nigeria plays in Africa, noting that for Africa to be respected by the rest of the world, Nigeria must not only lead the way, but also earn global respect.
Ekweremadu was quoted in a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, as saying: “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.
“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, God forbid”.
“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 said.
Ekweremadu admonished African leaders to respect term limits, regretting that “Many African leaders do not seem to care about the law of diminishing returns, but you can never cheat nature”.