Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari vowed on Sunday that next year’s presidential election would be “free”, “safe” and “transparent” as he marked the anniversary of the country’s return to democracy.
“I know that many of us are concerned about the growing insecurity due to terrorist activities in some parts of the country. As a government, we are working hard to control and address these challenges and this Let us ensure that the 2023 general elections are secure,” Buhari said in a televised address.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News Channel online or through the app,
“I am also promising you a free, fair and transparent electoral process,” he said.
“Nigerians, your right to choose your government will be preserved and protected.”
With the presidential campaign officially underway, and the main parties nominating their candidate, the head of state issued an appeal for unity.
“We must maintain this mature attitude towards campaigning and ultimately voting. We should never see it as a matter of ‘do or die’. We all must remember that democracy is about the will of the majority.
There must be winners and losers,” Buhari said, marking Democracy Day.
After years of military dictatorship, Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, even though insecurity, extreme poverty and endemic corruption continue.
The country has for more than a decade faced extremist insurgency in the northeast, criminal gangs in the northwest and separatist unrest in the center as well as the southeast.
Africa’s biggest economy, weakened by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, is now feeling the pinch from Ukraine’s war, which has pushed up fuel and food prices across the continent.
Former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu and former vice president Atiku Abubakar were named as candidates for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), respectively.
Both men are highly controversial: they are both in their 70s, wealthy and have been accused of corruption several times.
Since returning to civilian rule, Nigeria has had six national elections that have often been marred by fraud, technical difficulties, violence and legal challenges.
Read more: Nigeria opposition picks veteran Abubakar as presidential candidate