Former Senate President Bukola Saraki has related events that happened after he lost woefully in the 2019 general elections.
In 2019, Mr Saraki not only lost his grip on Kwara State after the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party in the governorship election, he also lost his bid to return to the Senate.
The Sarakis had been at the helm of political affairs of the state for years but their grip on the political leadership of the state was ruptured after the ‘O toge’ campaign launched by the APC in 2019.
Mr Saraki and PDP were defeated by Ibrahim Oloriegbe and AbdulRazaq Abdulrahman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the senatorial and governorship contests respectively.
Meanwhile, in his address delivered at an event organised by civil societies to commemorate the International Democracy Day on Tuesday, the former lawmaker spoke about his defeat and the aftermath.
“I went into elections in 2019 in Kwara State, our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and myself, lost the elections. We had our reservations on the credibility of the entire electoral process. We had good evidence of the illegal deployment of state forces and other undemocratic means to achieve the results declared by the electoral body.”
He said that the whole country witnessed the level of desperation displayed by the opposition party.
“The utterances of the former chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, who continuously boasted about how his number one priority and objective was to win Kwara State by whatever means necessary, were well documented.”
Speaking further, Mr Saraki explained that after the result of the 2019 elections was announced, he sent out messages to his followers despite their anger and quest to express their grievances, that they should accept the result and maintain peace.
“I then congratulated the winners and urged our people to support the newly elected officials. To further demonstrate good faith and gracefulness in defeat, I refused to challenge the process at the tribunal.”
He said the experience has placed him in a good position to talk about the need for political actors to suppress the desire for power and take side with the survival of the system.
“When I argue that politicians should learn to accept election results and demonstrate patriotism even in the face of naked provocation, it is based on my experience. The lives of our people, the stability of our democracy and the peace of the society are more important than our personal interest or the inflated egos of the leaders.”
Edo, Ondo Elections: What Buhari should do
In the speech, Mr Saraki advised President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the forthcoming elections “signpost his desire to leave for Nigeria and Africa a legacy of a true democracy and clean electoral process.”
The Edo and Ondo states governorship elections will be held on September 19 and October 10 respectively.
“This should be a starting point for our demand for a credible electoral process. Whilst we wait for the new Electoral Bill to be passed, we can begin to demand that the right things are done by all stakeholders in these elections.”
“President Buhari must use the Edo and Ondo elections to demonstrate ECOWAS commitment to credible electoral process.”
Mr Saraki further urged the president to ensure that the security agencies are misused to influence the results of the elections in Edo and Ondo States.
“Also, the electoral commission should be made to be truly immune from manipulations by individuals, no matter how highly placed.”
He also reiterated the stance of the international community on compliance with democratic processes, noting the sanction on election riggers announced by the United States yesterday.
The U.S. government has imposed visa restrictions on some Nigerians undermining electoral processes in the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo states.
“I call on the UK and the European Union to follow suit. This is necessary to send the right and strong signal that those who undermine democracy in Nigeria are enemies of the rest of the democratic world,” he said.
Mr Saraki demanded the president to “send a message to the National Assembly when the members resume later in the month that he wants them to present to him a new Electoral Bill for assent before the end of the year.”