Buhari, Soyinka back Jonathan on credible polls

By Emeka Mamah & Dayo Johnson
KADUNA—FORMER Head of State and presidential aspirant of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Major-Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, expressed confidence on the ability of President Goodluck Jonathan to conduct free, fair and credible elections next year and urged Nigerians to give him a chance to do so.

General Buhari spoke in a Kaduna State Radio programme “Vision Nigeria”, while Professor Soyinka had an interactive session with newsmen in Akure, Ondo State.

Buhari who said he was at the Presidential Villa last Monday on invitation of President Goodluck Jonathan to break the Ramadan fast for that day denied insinuations that he had discussed 2011 with the President.

He said: “I went there to honour the President’s invitation to break my fast. There were about 20 people there. We did not talk on any issue. Right from my car, I went straight to the breakfast table and after that, I went back to my car and left. So, I do not know where people got the idea that we discussed. That is not true.”

He expressed confidence that Jonathan would conduct free, fair and credible elections adding that he was ready to support any government that emerges through such credible polls.

Buhari who regretted that he spent 50 months in the courts challenging the conduct of the 2003 and 2007 presidential elections because both were adjudged by both local and international observers as not free and fair, added: “I will continue to fight for credible democracy in the country.”

He said: “When the Supreme Court validated the election of late President Uamru Musa Yar’Adua, my faith in the Nigerian judiciary was shaken but since the Supreme Court is the apex court in the land, there was nothing anybody could do about the judgment.

Conduct of free,fair polls

“The conduct of free, fair and credible election is not dependent on the candidates contesting the election, but the will of the people especially the elite to mobilize and deliver credible election to the people.

“If people are well informed and well led by their constituencies, I do not think we should be afraid for whoever wants to contest, including the President himself. I always bring the case of Bauchi, Kano and Lagos.

He added: “Nigerians have the capacity to reject any candidate they know is not capable to deliver the dividends of democracy.

Meanwhile, Prof Soyinka has urged Nigerians to give President Goodluck Jonathan the benefit of doubt to conduct next year’s election before condemning the approach towards the poll.

Soyinka also cautioned the media to stop portraying the internal policy of a single political party to mean the political policy of the entire country.

The Nobel laureate who spoke with newsmen in Akure after delivering a lecture on Culture and Politics at the First International Conference on Culture in the state said: “President Jonathan seems determined to make the elections free and fair hence the people should watch and see how he wished to achieve that. The President seems determined that the elections will be free and fair. The decorations are marvelous but we are waiting to see the results.

Condemning the approach


“Nigerians should, therefore, await the results of the 2011 general elections before condemning the approach towards the poll.”

Cautioning the media against dwelling so much on the internal policy of a political party, Soyinka said: “There is this habit in the media which tries to turn the internal practices of a particular party to mean the constitutional rights of the nation. That is wrong. So the press should stop portraying the internal policy of a single political party to mean the political policy of the entire country”.

In the lecture, Soyinka said the use of thugs to scuttle or disrupt election process, kidnappings and all forms of social insecurity which are yet to be tackled by government was a threat to the nation’s democracy.

He noted: “After about three decades of military rule in the country, the civilian administrations in the last 11 years are yet to restore civility to our system.”

The Nobel Laureate argued that “a better way to promote and nurture democracy in the country was for the people to respect and uphold their traditional culture and expressed concern that lack of respect for the traditional values was affecting democracy in Nigeria.”

He said that rather that questioning the source of sudden wealth of some individuals in the society, Nigerians ended up celebrating them, adding that Nigerians were fond of celebrating mediocrity while the “architects of Nigerian woes are currently being celebrated.”

According to him“majority of those who should be in jail were now major players in the nation’s political sphere. Soyinka, however, paid glowing tributes to the former Oyo State Governor and Minister of Justice, late Bola Ige and the foremost writer, late D.O Fagunwa. He said: “I advised the late Ige to accept the appointment as the Power and Steel Minister because I knew he had the solution to the energy crisis in the country then. The hawks in the system threw the spanner and he was taken to the Justice ministry where he was humiliated out of the system through a brutal death carried out in his bedroom.”

Governor Olusegun Mimiko spoke in the same vein saying that instead of questioning sudden wealth by some people they ended up being celebrate and honored.

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Comment by norbert diala on September 6, 2010 at 1:08pm
It is a welcome development for the people of Nigerians irrespective of political, ethnic/religious background to come together and support good governance and need for credible election. President Good Luck Jonathan has demonstrated to us Nigeria through his tireless efforts in picking a highly principled and man of integrity to head the independent electoral commission, on the person of Prof. Atahilo jegah. We should all support him for the betterment and progress of our great country Nigeria since if the peoples choice prevail in the Nigeria electoral position , it is then that we will boost of credible and visionary leaders. lets all support our active and visionary leader President.Good luck Jonathan for he is truly a man of his word. Norbert Diala
Comment by matovu muhammad Idris on September 6, 2010 at 10:11am
Yes, Soyinka is right.
Its never been worthy to condemn and judge the suspect before hearing the side of his story.As for the judgment and justice is the process rather not the incident, therefore, our Nigerian brothers and sisters, lets wait to watch the head and the tail of the matter, everything about elections are too close to call.
Comment by Oza Ogoamaka Nnabuife on September 5, 2010 at 4:58pm
Madam what is your own? you are just chanllaging people on this site. Please find something more important to do
Comment by TAS on September 5, 2010 at 7:38am
This is exactly what is hindering the country. I am Igbo, I am Yoruba and Edo and Hausa. Nigeria is a country that we need to avid devid of intelegence. Edo is part of Nigeria, we need more state of such. Should something happens to Nigeria it would also affect Edo, Mr. Edo, think of it.

The problems the country is attesting to now, is simply because of this sort of talks and lack of unity.

I thought we are too great for that.

Blessings in Jesus name who asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves, Amen and Amen.
Comment by nanpi on September 5, 2010 at 5:02am
it is interesting to see that for once we seem to love what is right. Buhari's visits also tells you that acrimony (which use to be the fad and fashion) between elites due to selfish political cravings will soon give way to a family-like relationship for the greater good of the country. this are all positives however, where does the relevance of the "common Man"(according to our senate president David Mark) lie? the US is what it is today because of the way the system engages and integrates all into the everyday affair of government. you have opinion polls from time to time to state how popular a government is or its policy through polls gathered there could be a further reinforcement, redirecting or a complete revoking because the true power lies with the people. not in Nigeria for now. hence the first step at getting power back to the people even before the elections is for us to put our so-called leaders to public debate. it is high time we shift from the analogue way of dramatizing politics to a more intellectually driven format that thrives on higher and reasonable argument. until and unless our leaders start facing us and accepting criticism we might not make any head way. on the part of "common man" (well i will not blame him that is mark) since a sheep of a followership only produces wolfs of leaders. we must learn to make our yearnings heard speaking as one man will give us the power we lost long ago and the time to get that power is now since the environment seems less volatile, less evil-geniuses clad(though some of them still ply their trade but with restrain now. u know we succeeded in that one that is why i want us to try this one). lets not forget the enormity of responsibility on us now to bequeath what is fair and just to the next generation. viva Nigeria
Comment by TAS on September 5, 2010 at 3:32am
In reply to Governor Mimiko:
it is simple applied science. Most of us are cowards of big mouths and no morals. Elese ko ni lo lai jiya. Mark my words.
Comment by TAS on September 5, 2010 at 3:27am
Mr. Gbolade Akintunde:
your comment made ostsense, but I believe in God and his men. Keep watching he gives the ill, minded people chances to change, He will later judge not inm heaven, but also on earth.
Comment by NDI MADU on September 4, 2010 at 1:21pm
The prophet of doom for Nigeria can wait for ever. Nigeria cannot vanish or disappear from the face of the earth as many thought. It was never evisgaed that democracy will work according to the Greeks and their logic. Long before Nigeria was founded, the Greeks decided that a democracy could never work. Their logic was that once the citizens discovered they could vote themselves money from the public treasury, their numbers and demands would grow until they outnmubered the financial prodeucers in any democracy, bringing bankruptcy to the State. The Senators and the governors have allocated much money to themselves thinking that the country will collapse but that cannot happen. It is in Nigeria that the lawmakers are earnimg more than the President of USA and Britiain put together. The acquisition of public money that belong to the poor is a curse because the poor masses are suffering whilst the families of these group of people enjoying foreign holidays and medical treatment.
I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria will attain a free and fair elections come 2011 provided that the masses ignore the Ghana-Must-Go politics that these hawks are going to emabrk on any more moment. We must not allow their evil and ill-gotten money pollute our conscience in elect credible leaders are able to govern our country.

NDIBE SAM MADU ESQ
Comment by NDI MADU on September 4, 2010 at 1:21pm
The prophet of doom for Nigeria can wait for ever. Nigeria cannot vanish or disappear from the face of the earth as many thought. It was never evisgaed that democracy will work according to the Greeks and their logic. Long before Nigeria was founded, the Greeks decided that a democracy could never work. Their logic was that once the citizens discovered they could vote themselves money from the public treasury, their numbers and demands would grow until they outnmubered the financial prodeucers in any democracy, bringing bankruptcy to the State. The Senators and the governors have allocated much money to themselves thinking that the country will collapse but that cannot happen. It is in Nigeria that the lawmakers are earnimg more than the President of USA and Britiain put together. The acquisition of public money that belong to the poor is a curse because the poor masses are suffering whilst the families of these group of people enjoying foreign holidays and medical treatment.
I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria will attain a free and fair elections come 2011 provided that the masses ignore the Ghana-Must-Go politics that these hawks are going to emabrk on any more moment. We must not allow their evil and ill-gotten money pollute our conscience in elect credible leaders are able to govern our country.

NDIBE SAM MADU ESQ
Comment by Mike Edo on September 4, 2010 at 6:31am
Who should be questioning the source of sudden wealth of some individuals in the society? Is it the powerless poor or the Government - Judiciary? If you (Soyinka & Mimiko) who are intellectually attained with empirical facts are not bold enough to mention these individuals’ names, who are the poor to start agitating?
My friends, we need to start getting real with our sometimes painful/critical understanding of events, expectations & recommendations. No poor would attempt to bell the cat and only to be trodden upon by the rich & powerful. In 2011 & beyond, if the powerful in the society allow free & fair elections, the poor would ensure credible choice is elected with their civic power. One man, one vote is already in operation in Edo State & the results of successive by-elections have been astonishingly free & fair because the peoples’ Governor – Comrade Oshiomhole provided the platform.
God bless Nigeria & God grant Edo State peace & prolong reign of Oshiomhole in Jesus name. Amen

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