President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday restated his resolve to leave behind a legacy of credible elections after serving out his two terms of eight years in May next year.
He dropped the hint in his farewell speech at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77) in New York, United States (U.S.).
“As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would leave is to entrench a process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections. It is through that mechanism that Nigerians will elect leaders of their choice,” Buhari told the Assembly.
According to him, his successor would be addressing the next session of the Assembly in 2024 as Nigeria’s new leader.
The president said: “We are now preparing for general elections in Nigeria next February. At the 78th UN General Assembly, there will be a new face at this podium speaking for Nigeria.
“Ours is a vast country strengthened by its diversity and its common values of hard work, enduring faith and a sense of community.
“We have invested heavily to strengthen our framework for free and fair elections.”
He reiterated his commitment to constitutional term limits and Nigeria’s effort at promoting the rule of law and democracy in the West African sub-region.
Buhari cited Nigeria’s support to The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Chad during their political impasses.
He spoke of how Nigeria assisted in guaranteeing the first democratic transition in The Gambia, since her independence.
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Besides, he said Nigeria stood by the democratically-elected government in Guinea-Bissau when it faced mutiny.
He added that following the tragic death of President Idris Deby in Chad, Nigeria joined forces with its other neighbours and international partners to stabilise the country.
According to him, Nigeria is currently encouraging a peaceful transition to democracy in Chad.
Buhari said: “We believe in the sanctity of Constitutional term limits and we have steadfastly adhered to it in Nigeria.
“We have seen the corrosive impact on values when leaders elsewhere seek to change the rules to stay on in power. I thank our partners for all the support that they have provided our election institutions.”
Noting democracy as an idea that crosses time and borders, he said: “Certainly, democracy does have its limitations.
“The wheels of democracy turn slowly. It can demand compromises that dilute decisions.
“Sometimes, it bends too much to special interests that exercise influence, not always for the general good, in a manner disproportionate to their numbers.
“It has been my experience that a democratic culture provides a government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change.”
Going down the memory lane, Buhari recalled that the first time he could have addressed the UN General Assembly was in 1984 as military Head of State.
He described it as a great privilege to personally address the Assembly, 31 years later, in 2015, as the democratically-elected president of Nigeria.
“As I approach the end of my second and final four-year term, I am reminded of how much things have changed in Nigeria; in Africa, and in the world, and yet, how some challenges remain,” he stressed.
He renewed Nigeria’s commitment a member of the global body.
The President said: “In keeping with our obligations as Member States of this noble Organisation, we all must do our utmost to work with you toward resolving them. In this regard, I reiterate my Delegation’s full and resolute cooperation.”
Let me convey my final reflection from this famous podium, we live in extraordinary times with interdependent challenges but enormous opportunities. The pace of change can seem bewildering, with sometimes a palpable and unsettling sense of uncertainty about our future.
“But if my years in public service have taught me anything, it is that we must keep faith with those values that endure. These include, but are not limited to such values as justice, honour, integrity, ceaseless endeavour, and partnership within and between nations.
“Our strongest moments have always been when we remain true to the basic principles of tolerance, community, and abiding commitment to peace and goodwill towards all.”