Former President of Kenya and Head of the African Union Observation Mission to Nigeria’s General Elections, Uhuru Kenyatta has asked Nigerians to keep faith in democracy by ensuring the forthcoming elections in the country are free, fair and credible.
Kenyatta made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja when he paid a visit to the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
He said Nigeria is a country where the world and Africa is watching and hoping that the outcome of the elections will bring all parties together to build a better country.
Kenyatta said: “We are here as you have correctly stated, to work together with you, we are here as members of the African Union observer team for the upcoming Presidential and Senate as well as National Assembly elections. We are here as members and brothers and sisters.
“From the African continent to affirm Nigeria, Nigeria’s commitment as the largest democracy on the African continent and your commitment to democracy to the rule of law and to active democratic practices that allow the people at intervening periods to be able to elect for themselves the leaders of their choice.
“Just to say one thing which I have noted, in particular, and that is President Buhari’s personal commitment towards a free, fair and transparent election, this is something he has been talking about at various intervals, many do not actually thinking he would actually see it through. But we are here today and seeing that he has lived true to his words.
“We are here to see that those words turn into reality in the next few days. We are here to work together with our brothers and sisters of Nigeria, as they exercise that fundamental right, which is the democratic right to choose freely, the leaders without hindrance. There are many challenges and we all know that.
“And those challenges are not peculiar to Nigeria. There are challenges that for one reason or another affect various parts of the world and not just Africa you’ve seen similar challenges in the UK,” he insisted that there bigger experiences in established democracies like The United States and African countries should not be needlessly be apprehensive.
He added that: “But at the end of the day, what we want is that the eventual outcome of these elections reflects the will, of the people of this great country of Nigeria. We are here to work together with the Independent Electoral Commission.
“We are here to see how we can be of assistance. We are here. To ensure that the processes are clear and above board . We are here to encourage our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, to remember that elections are just part of a process. Because democracy is built over years.”
He insisted that: “Elections are not the beginning and the end. We are here to encourage that people accept results and are able to move on and build a greater and better Nigeria together, that people are able to come together after the election, and continue working for the betterment of the people of this country, and for the greatness of this nation, and for the greatness of our African continent.
“We are looking forward to working with all candidates. We are looking forward to working with the Electoral Commission. We are looking forward to working with Nigerians to ensure that there will remain supreme and to ensure that the voice of Nigeria and I repeat again, the largest democracy on the African continent will send a signal to the rest of the continent and the world of Africa’s commitment to democracy and Africa’s commitment to respecting the free will of people to elect leaders of their choice.
He appeal to Nigerians to understand that there is life after an election, “Should I stand before you as a two term president who is very happy in his retirement and who looks forward to working with a man I consider not my elder brother, but my father once his term comes to an end, as we continue to work together.”
In his opening remarks, Onyeama thanked the former Head of State for his fatherly support, saying: “I wish at the very outset on behalf of the President and the people of Nigeria, and I would indeed say, the people of Africa to extend our deepest appreciation, and congratulations to you on the phenomenal role you play as president of Kenya, not just for your achievements in Kenya, taking the country from a very precarious position to truly a thriving economy.”
Michael Olugbode in Abuja