Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the 2019 general election witnessed some improvements over previous ones.
He also said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term victory was made possible through a popular mandate by the majority of Nigerian voters.
Osibanjo made the assertions at the Electoral Reform Roundtable jointly organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and Koffi Annan Foundation in Abuja on Wednesday.
The vice-president, who was represented at the event by his Special Assistant on Technical Matters, Mrs. Ibe Awosika, said there is no doubting the fact that the Nigerian electorate demonstrated their love and trust for President Buhari through the majority vote cast for him and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), at the 2019 presidential election.
He said: “The Nigerian citizens demonstrated their faith in the leadership and administration of President Muhammadu Buhari at the March 2019 presidential election with a clear majority. This is because of their belief in the ability of this administration to its citizens to the next level in various aspects.”
Speaking on the 2019 elections, Prof. Osibanjo said that various observer groups had reported that the conduct of the election marked a remarkable improvement to previous ones.
While acknowledging that more work needed to be done in improving the country’s electoral system, Osibanjo said that the federal government will collaborate with the civil society organisations, the media and other stakeholders to ensure that recommended improvements are implementated.
Osibanjo said the present administration is setting foundations that will liberate the people from poverty by increasing the ease of doing business, funding agriculture, extending credit facilities to small scale businesses and implementing elaborate social intervention programmes.
“Similar to the observed improvement in the electoral process, this administration has seen improvements in other areas of focus. Thorough monetary and fiscal measures that have simulated economic growth and cut down on inflation and shoring up our external reserves which is now $45 billion. This is inspite of the 60% drop in oil prices,” he said.
The vice-president assured Nigerians that the administration will in the next four years build on its gains while working to contain old and new security challenges in the country.
The representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, also aligned with Osinbajo’s position, saying that most election observers have noted that the 2019 election was well conducted and that it offered Nigerians opportunity to elect their leaders at various levels.
He however said that most of the election observer groups have called for improvement in some aspects of the electoral system.
On his part, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase, said that the National Assembly has received the report of the European Union (EU) election observation report and that it will work on the recommendations.
He also assured the gathering that the legislative chambers will commence fresh constitutional amendments as soon as possible.
“It is part of our agenda and we will not wait till the end of the four years before the amendments. We will start the process soon,” he said.
Earlier, while welcoming participants at the roundtable, the Convener of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, described the conduct of the 2019 general election as disappointing and a drawback to milestones recorded in the previous exercise in 2015.
Nwankwo, who led other CSOs to observe the last poll in the country, lamented that what transpired left much to be desired.
He said that the 2019 general election cannot pass as a good example to other African countries that desire to learn the act of democratic election from Nigeria.