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Despite Global Outcry, Buhari Defends Tinubu’s Victory
*Says he had no plan to annul 2023 presidential poll
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Despite the global outcry provoked by the conduct of the February 25 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari has risen in defence of the emergence of his fellow party man and candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, as winner.
Buhari expressed stout justification of the president-elect, insisting, “Bola Tinubu’s election stands. If you are aggrieved, and you have the locus to do so, go to court.”
The president’s comments were contained in a piece put together yesterday by presidential spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, as the takeaway from Buhari’s recent visit to Doha, Qatar.
Buhari also disclosed that at no time did he consider annulling the 2023 presidential poll, as was the case of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, presumably won by the late Bashorun MKO Abiola.
The international media and civil society organisations, including poll observers, have been very critical of the February 25 election that produced Tinubu as president-elect. The London-based The Economist, The Financial Times, The Guardian of U.K, The New York Times, The Times of London, CNN, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, Sueddeutsche Zietung, and The Washington Post have all condemned the election in different editorial comments. Foreign election observers from the US International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the European Union, African Union, and ECOWAS have also faulted aspects of the election.
But Shehu said in the piece that the president used the opportunity of the Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Qatar to drum up support for Tinubu.
Speaking to Nigerians in the diaspora on the on-going political transition, Buhari was quoted to have called for support for the incoming government of Tinubu, “So that Nigeria will continue to be the beacon of hope and prosperity in our continent and an example for other African countries to emulate.
“In addition to other things, this trip, more than any other, speaks to the courage, political stamina and statesmanship with which the president has managed the affairs of the nation.
“Shehu recalled that; in the build-up to the trip, he was faced with orchestrated attempts to poison public opinion against national institutions, particularly, the presidential election and its conduct by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as an institution, against which vile and unsubstantiated allegations were hurled.
“The clear intent of this was creating an atmosphere of fear, polarising the public and demonising the administration of the president. The wishful thinkers appeared to assume that the June 12, 1993 election crisis, the worst ever since the civil war, could be recreated.
“Those who sought to do this forgot what the president said at the palace of the Gbong-Gwon Jos, when he went to the city to inaugurate the Tinubu-Shettima campaign: ‘this election will not be annulled; whoever is the winner will be president.’”
According to the presidential spokesman, “Buhari not only muted himself following the cacophony, he picked up international travel: ‘Bola Tinubu’s election stands. If you are aggrieved, and you have the locus to do so, go to court.’”
Shehu further wrote, “President Muhammadu Buhari just returned from the 5th United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Doha, Qatar.
“The conference featured an opening ceremony, the Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration of the Establishment of the Group of LDCs, General Debate, Eight (8) High-level Thematic Roundtables, and series of side events on priorities of the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA).
“The objective of the conference was to primarily mobilise political will, solidarity, action and solutions to transform the LDCs, by finding sustainable solutions to the challenges of poverty, food insecurity, hunger, weak or non-existent infrastructure, inadequate health facilities, climate change, among other things.
“Expectedly, Nigeria participated in the general debate in which President Buhari delivered a national statement while the Ministers of Environment, Education, Humanitarian Affairs, Industry, Trade and Investment, Finance, Budget and National Planning participated in the main Thematic Roundtables relevant to the policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“These thematic issues were, Addressing Climate Change and Supporting the Environment; Investing in People in Least Developed Countries to Leave no One Behind; Enhancing the Participation of Least Developed Countries in International Trade and Regional Integration; and Resource Mobilisation and Strengthened Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development in Least Developed Countries. Nigerians saw much of it on TV, great visuals of accomplishments and possibilities from there.”
While in Doha, the president, Buhari’s spokesman added, held series of talks on the sidelines, meeting Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Guinea-Bissau, Oumarou Sissoco Embalo, who brought the news of the forthcoming Icon of Democracy Award to Buhari; the transitional president of Chad, General Mehmet Idris Deby-Itno, who got assurances of support for the democratic transition going on in that country, with both leaders appreciating the sustained momentum in the transition, and another meeting with Vice President of Iran, Mohsen Mansouri.
“Here, both leaders discussed ways to further strengthen economic cooperation, especially, in the sectors of energy, infrastructure and culture,” Shehu stated. He added, “President Buhari told the Iranian Vice President that he fully supports ‘the strengthening of relations between our countries, as we have complementarities, especially in energy production.’
“The president also had another important meeting with the father of the current leader of Qatar, the host country, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani. The two leaders discussed ways to increase commerce, make people-to-people ties even stronger, cooperation in areas of energy, culture and other important issues.
“President Buhari used the opportunity of the visit to speak to his guests about the recent election in Nigeria and the fact that a new president would be taking over in less than three months. He hoped that the strong relations he had built between those countries would continue to endure in the new administration.
“The highlight of the conference for Nigeria was the national address on the theme of this year’s event: ‘From Potential to Prosperity’, a speech that observers described as strikingly activist. In it, the president criticised the current structure of the global financial system, which he said, ‘places an unsustainable external debt burden on the most vulnerable countries.’”
Buhari warned that such debt burdens would make it very difficult for LDCs to meet the 2030 Agenda for Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to Shehu, “In 2015, the world came together to endorse the 2030 Agenda for Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. There was no doubt that it was highly ambitious and would require leaders around the world to be fully committed for the SDGs to be achieved within the projected timeframe.
“Eight years on, the possibility of achieving the SDGs remains bleak for many countries, particularly, the Least Developed Countries. The difficulties in achieving the SDGs are numerous and were further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the continued threat of Climate Change, and recently the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“The Least Developed Countries are often faced with developmental vulnerabilities and challenges that are not always of their making. These pose huge obstacles to their development efforts, hence, the need for urgent and robust assistance to help unlock their potentials and build socio-economic resilience.”
The president was also very strong on his pet topic, Climate Change, his spokesman wrote, in the speech, warning that climate change remains one of the biggest existential threats facing humanity today, posing challenges to lives and livelihoods, and manifesting in different negative forms, including increase in temperature, rise in sea levels, flooding, drought, and desertification.
“It has also led to significant loss of biodiversity. Worst still, climate change has exacerbated conflicts and led to unplanned migration, causing untold hardship in places like the Lake Chad Basin region,” the spokesman wrote.
He stated further, “The least developed countries, therefore, continue to suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change, despite contributing the least to its causes. Deaths from climate related crises are higher in the most vulnerable countries, with projections that there will continue to be an upward trend.”
Shehu said whenever the president travelled abroad, he always met world leaders, “but never missed the opportunity to talk to our citizens there, who proudly tell him about the achievements of the Nigerian community settled in those countries. The group he met with in Doha was made up of very outstanding professionals.
“In putting together those meetings, the Nigerian Diaspora Commission under Abike Dabiri has been showing a remarkable aptitude.
“The trip to Qatar was yet another successful outing by the president and it will be on record as such.”