President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reminisced about the conduct of the 2015 general elections, saying it marked a watershed in the nation’s political history.
Speaking in Abuja at the Leadership Annual Awards, the president said the nation’s democracy had been strengthened by the outcome of the 2015 elections as Nigerians now have more faith in the electoral system in the sense that their votes would count when choosing political leaders at various levels.
Buhari maintained that he and other participating actors in the elections were led by the higher ideal of the future of Nigeria and the well-being of the citizens rather than the mere desire of politicians to win elections.
He said it was the commitment to this ideal, the patriotic zeal of former President Jonathan, the impartiality of the electoral umpire and exemplary conduct of the political parties, foreign pressure and other actors "that we collectively disappointed the prophets of doom who had predicted the disintegration of the country after the 2015 general elections."
President Buhari stressed that the political class should build on the experience of the 2015 elections to nurture the country’s democracy.
Buhari, who co-won the Leadership Person Award of the Year with his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan and former INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega, said the honour was another public acknowledgement of their various roles and contributions towards the national rebirth and development of democracy in Nigeria.
The president said they were humbled by the honour which, according to him, would inspire them to redouble their commitment to the progress of democracy and development of the country.
He expressed hope that the awards would encourage all those recognised to remain committed to good behaviour in their various endeavours to justify the recognition and serve as inspiration to others.
Buhari further said: "The Leadership Newspapers have been in the forefront of promoting democracy and positive values that are necessary to achieve national consensus on the issues that tend to challenge our unity and progress as a nation. We commend the Leadership Newspapers Group and its publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah for standing firm on the path of patriotism, justice and fairness.
“Our participation in this ceremony is therefore a mark of confidence in the brand of journalism practised by the Leadership Newspapers Group as it is a public acknowledgment of the contributions of the media to our administration’s agenda to defeat terrorism and violent extremism in the country, fight corruption and diversify the economy to create jobs for our teeming population and generally improve the standard of living of Nigerians."
The president said he expected the Nigerian media to join his government in pursuit of these goals and not just to criticise but to prove their independence.
According to him, the media must continually see itself as a true partner in the task of nation building and thus act in the spirit of patriotism at all times in the important role of informing Nigerians.
President Buhari assured that his doors were widely open to media inquiries in line with the transparency and anti-corruption stance of his administration.