Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday criticized fellow leaders for extending mandate limits to cling to power, saying this was having a “corrosive” effect and promised free and fair elections when the country elects its successor in February.
Some of Buhari’s African counterparts are among the longest-serving leaders in the world. President Paul Biya of neighboring Cameroon held power for nearly four decades, positioning himself behind Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang who ruled the small Central African country for 43 years.
Buhari, 79, who took office after defeating an incumbent president in the 2015 election, will make way for a new leader in what would be another peaceful transfer of power, helping to cement Nigeria’s democratic credentials in a region prone to coups.
Nigeria ended decades of military rule in 1999.
Speaking at his latest UN General Assembly, Buhari said Africa’s most populous nation has invested heavily in securing free and fair elections.
“We believe in the sanctity of the constitutional limits of terms and have consistently abided by in Nigeria. We have seen the corrosive impact on values when leaders elsewhere try to change the rules to stay in power, ”Buhari said.
“As president, I have set the goal that one of the lasting legacies I would like to leave is to strengthen a process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect the leaders of their choice.”
The official election campaign begins next week and the ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu and the main opposition flag bearer Atiku Abubakar are seen as the main contenders.