Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president-elect just won an election that was deemed too close to call. The February 16 poll was eventually postponed to February 24.
After weeks of campaigning, touring all 36 states of the federation, Buhari was banking on his first term for a second and final term in charge of Africa’s most populous nation.
The term four plus four became synonymous with the Buhari campaign even as his main contender Atiku Abubakar – a former vice-president said he was on a mission to “Get Nigeria Working Again.”
This article looks back at the 76-year-old’s rhetoric in the wake of the postponement through to self congratulations and rather conciliatory tone after he was declared winner on February 27.
February 18: Shoot to kill orders
These comments were made on the Monday after the elections were postponed after the elections body, INEC, cited logistical issues especially transporting voting materials across the country.
Buhari was speaking at a national caucus of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the capital Abuja.
“I do not expect anybody to make any disturbance. I have briefed the law enforcement agencies and the military, they have identified hot spots, flash points, they should be prepared to move.
“I really gave the military and police order to be ruthless… Anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch ballot boxes or disturbs the voting system, will do so at the expense of his own life.
“We are not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections. I want Nigerians to be respected, let them vote whoever they want across the parties.”
Buhari’s comments was met with a swift riposte from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Whiles they accused Buhari of giving shoot to kill orders, pro-government activists insist that he was only speaking in the language that ballot snatchers understand.
February 23: I’ll congratulate myself
After casting his ballot on February 23 in his home town of Daura in Katsina State, the president said he was set to congratulate himself because he was going to win the polls.
In his words: “It is my constituency here, I’m pleased people are already lined up so at the same time the vote can continue, thank you very much.
(REPORTER ASKING: How do you feel yourself sir?”) Well so far, so good. Nigerians understand that they are believing themselves.(REPORTER ASKING: “Are you hopeful?”) Very hopeful indeed. (REPORTER ASKING: “If you lose will you accept defeat and congratulate the winner?) I will congratulate myself, I’m going to be the winner. Thank you very much.”
February 27: Elections are not war
On the dawn of February 27, INEC declared Buhari winner of the polls and arranged for his certificate of return to be presented later in the day. Buhari’s remarks afterwards was conciliatory with a rallying call to unite and work to improve Nigeria.
“I would like to make a special appeal to my supporters not to gloat or humiliate the opposition. Victory is enough reward for your efforts.
“Election is not war, and should never be seen as a do-or-die affair. I pray that we all accept this democratic approach to elections, however contentious.
“All Nigerians going forward must stand in brotherhood for a bright and fulfilling future. I therefore want to assure that we will continue to engage all parties that have the best interest of Nigerians at heart.
“Our government will remain inclusive and our doors will remain open. That is the way to build the country of our dreams – safe, secure, prosperous and free of impunity and primitive accumulation by those entrusted with public offices.”