President Muhammadu Buhari has described the February 25 and March 18 elections as proof that Nigerians, if given the chance of a free and fair election, are capable of deciding who leads them without being teleguided.
Buhari stated this at a farewell meeting with outgoing US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard at State House in Abuja.
The President, who expressed satisfaction with the remarkable passion towards democracy exhibited by Nigerians through the choices they made in the presidential, National Assembly and governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, said the country’s democracy has truly matured.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu quoted the president as saying: “People are realising their power. Given the chance of a free and fair vote, nobody can tell them what to do. I am unhappy that some candidates lost in the election. But I am inspired by the fact that voters were able to make their own decision, to decide who won and who lost. With the currency change, there was no money to spread around but even then, I told voters to take the money and vote according to their consciences.”
Buhari said he was completely satisfied with his own role in the election process, staying above it, without meddlesomeness or any form of interference.
The president commended the outgoing Ambassador for the enormous achievements recorded in Nigeria-US relations in the three-and-half years she had been here.
In an answer to a question posed by Ambassador Leonard, President Buhari said he planned to be a “big landlord” back at home, working his farms and tending his more than 300 animals. “I am eager to go,” he said.
Leonard expressed her gratitude and that of the US government in the continuing role of the President in ensuring regional security and strengthening of democracy as a system of government, citing his strong response against the recent surge of coups-d’état in West Africa as worthy of commendation.