Buhari parries question on conceding defeat in election

President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Town Hall meeting
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Town Hall meeting

President Muhammadu Buhari was uncategorical when asked on Wednesday night whether he would concede defeat if he fails to score majority votes at next month’s presidential election.

Asked whether be would congratulate his challenger by host Kadaria Ahmed at a town hall that aired live on NTA Wednesday night, the president said it would be almost impossible for him to lose.

He said he has lost before, and challenged results in court.

He also accused the Peoples Democratic Party, which held Nigeria’s centre between 1999 and 2015, of concocting election results within that period, saying that cost him the mandate thrice.

Mr Buhari became president in 2015 after defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, in an historic election that saw the first victory for an opposition party in Nigeria’s presidential poll.

Mr Buhari said technology played a crucial role in his victory, together with an arrogant ruling party that underestimated the potential of card readers and his political strength at the time.

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Four years on, however, Mr Buhari is unable to say whether or not he would emulate Mr Jonathan and similarly concede defeat should he lose.

Analysts have advised that accepting defeat is key to ensuring a peaceful transition after the election on February 16.

Already, political and religious leaders, under the national peace committee, have drafted a peace accord for the 2019 elections which virtually all the presidential candidates have endorsed.

Mr Buhari faces his most potent challenger in Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s vice-president between 1999 and 2007, who picked the opposition PDP’s presidential ticket last October.

Mr Abubakar is hoping to ride on his strong business background, as well as the disillusionment of citizens towards Mr Buhari’s government.

The president promised to improve Nigeria’s security and economy, and reign in corruption.

Many, including his erstwhile supporters, feel this had not been fulfilled, and even worse off in some cases.

The administration however insists it has done well and deserved reelection.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo appeared with the president at the town hall, which is a series organised for presidential candidates and their running mates ahead of polls next month.

Mr Abubakar and his vice, Peter Obi, are expected to appear on the programme at the end of this month.

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