The Presidency has disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration worked assiduously to bend the electoral system in its bid to scuttle the victory of the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) during the 2015 presidential election.
The Presidency’s position was contained in a statement signed on Monday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled, ‘Assent into law of the electoral act 2022: Landmark moment for the nation’.
The Presidency argued that Jonathan’s government tried everything within its power to leverage its 16 years incumbency in thwarting the outcome despite the margin of the overwhelming vote polled by Buhari during the election.
The presidency said, “It is easy to forget that the election of 2015 was the first time in the history of Nigeria that power peacefully changed hands at the ballot box. It was the first time any party or candidate not from the incumbent PDP had won a nationwide contest since the re-establishment of democracy.
“This came despite the then administration pulling every lever of its sixteen-year incumbency to bend the electoral system to its advantage.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election by a 15 per cent and a 4 million vote margin in 2019 was therefore equally decisive: it was the first time a non-PDP administration had even been returned to office to a consecutive term.
“The last two contests represent the levelling of the political playing-field between long-time incumbents and long-time opposition by sheer force of citizens’ determination for change. Nigerians voted so decisively for the President and the APC, and the margins so significant that the result could not be in doubt.”
The Presidency, however, admitted that despite the victory, it was not a reason to ignore the fact there have been inadequacies in electoral law – and therefore electoral practice.
The evident inadequacies, the Presidency said, spurred the president to assent the Electoral Act 2022 after the back and forth on some controversial provisions of the bill.
The Presidency added that the assent underscores the perfect workings of a parliament and executive both driven by new energy to deliver change in Nigeria.
“This of course runs parallel to that which we witnessed in the past when self-interest overrode the nation and the fashioning of electoral acts.
“More than anything else, this law underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring free and fair elections, dignity of the citizens, opportunity, and justice to all political participants whether they are voters or candidates.
“This law furthers social empowerment and inclusion by limiting the influence of money on elections and raw power of incumbents to use to the disadvantage of opponents outside the political tent.
“It equally limits the thuggish practice of kingpins who scare voters and officials away, snatch ballot boxes to fill desired outcomes against the popular wish,” the Presidency said.