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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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President Buhari at UNGA, reiterates commitment to transparent, fair election in 2023

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in New York at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vowed to entrench a process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.

In his farewell speech to UNGA as President, he told the 77th session that next year, there would be a new face speaking for Nigeria from the podium of the Assembly Hall.

The President expressed his commitment to constitutional term limits and Nigeria’s effort to promote rule of law and democracy in West Africa, citing the country’s support to The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Chad during their political impasse.

“We believe in the sanctity of constitutional term limits and we have steadfastly adhered to it in Nigeria. We have seen the corrosive impact on values when leaders elsewhere seek to change the rules to stay on in power.

“Indeed, we are now preparing for general elections in Nigeria next February. At the 78th UNGA, there will be a new face at this podium speaking for Nigeria.

“Ours is a vast country strengthened by its diversity and its common values of hard work, enduring faith and a sense of community.

”We have invested heavily to strengthen our framework for free and fair elections. I thank our partners for all the support that they have provided our election institutions.

”As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair and transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice,” Buhari was quoted as saying by his spokesman, Femi Adesina in a statement.

Highlighting support for democracy in the sub-region, President Buhari said in The Gambia, Nigeria helped guarantee the first democratic transition since independence and stood by the democratically elected Government in Guinea-Bissau when it faced mutiny.

He added that following the tragic death of President Idris Deby of Chad in the battlefield, Nigeria joined forces with its other neighbours and international partners to stabilize the country and encourage the peaceful transition to democracy, a process which is ongoing.

“Democracy is an idea that crosses time and borders. Certainly, democracy does have its limitations.

“The wheels of democracy turn slowly. It can demand compromises that dilute decisions.

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“Sometimes, it bends too much to special interests that exercise influence, not always for the general good, in a manner disproportionate to their numbers.

“But it has been my experience that a democratic culture provides a Government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change,” he said.

Recalling that the first time he could have addressed the Assembly was in 1984, as Military Head of State of Nigeria, President Buhari said it was a great privilege to personally address the Assembly, thirty-one years later, in 2015, “as the democratically elected President of my country.”

“As I approach the end of my second and final four-year term, I am reminded of how much has changed in Nigeria, in Africa, and in the world, and yet, how some challenges remain,” he said in the address, which also focused on pressing international issues including the consequences of the war in Ukraine, Climate Change, malignant use of technology, debt service suspension, among others.

On the war in Ukraine, the Nigerian leader warned that the danger of escalation further justifies Nigeria’s resolute calls for a nuclear-free world and a universal Arms Trade Treaty, which are necessary measures to prevent global human disasters.

He demanded that world leaders must find quick means to reach consensus on the nuclear non-proliferation Treaty with related commitments by nuclear weapon states.

He said that the war would have adverse consequences on all, hindering the capacity of the international community to work together to resolve conflicts elsewhere, especially in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia:

“Indeed, the ongoing war in Ukraine is making it more difficult to tackle the perennial issues that feature each year in the deliberations of this Assembly, such as nuclear disarmament, the right of the Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for statehood and reduction of inequalities within and amongst nations.”

On the use of technology, President Buhari called attention to the use of social media to spread hate speech and divisive information, urging world leaders that in confronting these challenges they must come together to defend freedom of speech and uphold other values they cherish.

“We must continue to work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities to keep the most vulnerable from harm and help strengthen and enrich communities.

“Efforts to protect communities from the scourge of disinformation and misinformation must also be matched with efforts to reduce inequalities and restore hope to our poorer and most vulnerable of our communities as a means to stem the many socio-economic conflict drivers with which we are faced,” he said.

The President asserted that while social media is helpful in strengthening the foundations of society and common values, at its worst, it is a corrosive digital version of the mob, bristling with intolerance and division.

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