IN PRAISE OF BUHARI’S DEMOCRATIC FREEDOM

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“Nigeria’s democracy is steadily improving with deeper understanding of the culture and tenets among the people, and strengthening of the institutions that guarantee free and fair elections… I emphasize free and fair elections at all times”, President Muhammadu Buhari, while receiving Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency Rt. Hon. Julie Payette, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

I am confident in this topic I took up to write on. It is my writ and I challenge anyone who thinks otherwise. Such person cannot withstand the challenge with sincerity. President Muhammadu Buhari has broken the record to be the only Nigerian president who has virtually provided the level ground for democracy to thrive in all ramifications, not partially like before, in Nigeria. Please, do not be in a haste to judge me. Take your time and read through. Truth is hard to accept but it is the exalted abstraction that defies defeat; it prevails, however long it may take.

Buhari commands an unparallel leadership charisma. His democratic regime has deepened democracy in Nigeria. He has won the love of Nigerians and the people of the world as a rare gem in democratic institutionalization. Let me pinpoint areas where Buhari has been recognized as the first. For the first time in Nigeria, money politics is becoming obsolete. The borders are very tight against “importation” of hard currency by politicians. Thanks be to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for job well done. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is tightly monitored against financial sharp practices.

Buhari has warned against the use of any money from the government treasury for his re-election campaign. He reiterated his commitment to eliminate corruption in campaign financing in the country and directed cabinet ministers to take advantage of technology to reach out to voters on the need to return the APC-led administration. This is the first time an incumbent president will openly make such proclamation. Nigerians want change and Buhari has proven beyond doubts that he can deliver that change. He has taken drastic actions to ensure that Nigerians are no longer swayed by money politics. Though it will take sometimes to fully materialize, the 2019 electioneering experience is just the starting stage.

The Sunday edition of Punch Newspaper on April 19, 2015 reported former President Jonathan as demanding for the audit and refund of election campaign funds of N2tn. The same report exposed the PDP party officials as to have spent the money on the acquisition of car and property. This can be described as a high level of financial recklessness. It was quite unbecoming of a party that lorded itself over a sovereignty and expected to remain on such power for 60 years. It is dangerous for such party to come back to power.

For the first time, many political parties are participating freely in Nigerian general elections despite the fact that the “free money” in the name of grants to parties during the PDP era is over. What does this signify? It means that despite the fact that INEC does not give free money again, the democratic environment is much more conducive. If it were in the past, PDP would have bought over almost all the parties in the name of solidarity. Now, political parties do not even have the free money to lobby for alliance. Politicians who often used the electioneering period to show off their “illegally acquired” wealth and bamboozle the electorate have suddenly gone underground because Buhari’s democratic freedom is curbing waste, gerrymandering and evasive politicking.

Muhammad Ajah, Abuja