President Buhari has congratulated President-elect, Bola Tinubu, who was declared the winner of the February 25, 2023, presidential election by INEC in the early hours of today , March 1.
In a statement released by his media aide, Garba Shehu, President Buhari said Tinubu has been elected by the people and that he will now work with him and his team to ensure an orderly handover of power.
The president, who cited a reference to concerns over the issues with the INEC result viewing portal, said such will be the focus as efforts go into improving the country’s electoral process.
Garba quoted the president as saying that results from the elections reveal the ripening of democracy in Nigeria.
The President acknowledged that the election was flawed but pointed out that the issues registered do not take away the fact that the election was free and fair.
He described Tinubu as the best person for the position, and also expressed his commitment to working with the president-elect towards smooth transition of power.
The statement quotes the President as saying those who are aggrieved and have proof that the election was flawed should come up with evidence and that if they cannot ‘we must conclude that the election was the people’s will.’
He asked anyone with a grievance about the election to take it to the courts and not the streets.
‘I congratulate His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his victory. Elected by the people, he is the best person for the job. I shall now work with him and his team to ensure an orderly handover of power,’ Buhari said.
‘The election was Africa’s largest democratic exercise. In a region that has undergone backsliding and military coups in recent years, this election demonstrates democracy’s continued relevance and capability to deliver for the people it serves.
‘Within Nigeria, the results reveal democracy’s ripening in our country. Never has the electoral map shifted so drastically in one cycle. In the presidential elections, states in all regions across the nation changed colour.
‘Some amongst you may have noticed my home state amongst them. The winning candidate did not carry his own home state either. That happens during a competitive election.
‘Votes and those that cast them cannot be taken for granted. Each must be earned. Competition is good for our democracy. There is no doubt the people’s decision has been rendered in the results we look at today.
‘That is not to say the exercise was without fault. For instance, there were technical problems with electronic transmission of the results. Of course, there will be areas that need work to bring further transparency and credibility to the voting procedure. However, none of the issues registered represent a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections.
‘I know some politicians and candidates may not agree with this view. That too is fine. If any candidate believes they can prove the fraud they claim is committed against them, then bring forward the evidence.
‘If they cannot, then we must conclude that the election was indeed the people’s will – no matter how hard that may be for the losers to accept. If they feel the need to challenge, please take it to the courts, not to the streets.
‘However, to do the latter means they are not doing it in the interest of the people, but rather to inflame, to put people in harm’s way and all for personal, selfish gains.
‘After a degree of polarisation that necessarily accompanies any election, it is now time to come together and act responsibly.
‘I call on all candidates to remember the peace pledge they signed just days before the election. Do not undermine the credibility of INEC. Let us now move forward as one. The people have spoken.