Nigeria 2023: Worries of Election rigging as Buhari speaks of picking successor
In February, 2023, Nigeria, West Africa will once again go to the polls for general election to elect the President, 36 State Governors, and National and sub-national parliamentarians.
The process for the election has begun in earnest with political parties holding primary elections to elect their flag bearers.
But excitement for the election seemed to have waned since Tuesday after President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Governors of the ruling party and spoke about his intention to pick his successor.
Watchers believed Buhari’s choice of words represents his plan for the election—that the presidency would do all it could to subvert free and fair election.
Already, the main opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has elected a former Vice President and a northern political heavyweight, Atiku Abubakar to fly its flag.
Buhari’s picking successor statement is raising dusts in political circles. A member of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has cautioned Buhari on the need to be conscious of his legacies and avoid falling into the temptation of unilaterally picking his successor.
National Vice Chairman, North-West, in the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC, Salihu Lukman, gave the charge in an open letter to the President Wednesday in Abuja.
Noting that it would be “democratically risky and very costly” to allow the President do so, Lukman urged President Buhari not to copy what he described as the anti-democratic credentials of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who foisted his successor, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and went on to rig the general election to ensure his emergence as President.
Lukman, in the piece titled “Succession and 2023 APC Presidential Candidate: Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari,” was reacting to the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting between President Buhari and APC governors.
During the consultative meeting with Progressive Governors on Tuesday, the President had spoken of the internal policies of the APC which allowed ‘first term governors who have served credibly well …to stand for re-election’ and ‘second term governors … accorded the privilege of promoting successors that are capable of driving their visions’.
The President, therefore, solicited for ‘reciprocity and support of Governors and other stakeholders in picking’ his successor, ‘who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.’
Noting that ordinarily, this should not be a problem as both party members and leaders will always trust the president’s judgment, the APC official however noted that “the big worry is whether loyal party leaders and members should just reduce themselves to being ordinary observers when very sensitive issues with very high potential to diminish and damage Your Excellency’s revered status in the country is being considered”.
The former Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF noted that it is important therefore to caution APC to keep faith with basic tenets of democracy as its major campaign message to Nigerians for the 2023 elections.
“This was eloquently highlighted in Your Excellency’s message to our Progressive Governors when you stated that ‘the key to electoral successes is the ability to hold consultations and for members to put the nation above other interests.’
“The temptation for leaders to choose their successors is democratically risky and very costly. If in 2013/2014, Your Excellency could submit yourself to internal democratic processes, it is important that your successor also follows the same process.
“It may also be necessary to highlight that a major disadvantage with succession arrangement whereby Governors chose their successors is that it negatively affects relationship between the successor and the predecessor, which undermines capacity to influence actions or inactions of successors by their predecessors.
“Your Excellency, since the period of negotiating the merger that produce our party APC, I have been a proponent of ensuring that our party takes every step to preserve our leaders who could exercise moral authority.
“This means that leaders who are highly respected on account of their standing in society should not hold elective or appointive positions.”