Garba Shehu, spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari, says Mr Buhari and former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu saved Nigeria’s democracy with the merger that birthed the All Progressives Congress that defeated the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 presidential election.
“President Muhammadu Buhari reconstructed political parties and formed this country’s biggest political merger in partnership with people like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and saved the country’s democracy by instituting a new administration that is change oriented,” Mr Shehu said.
The spokesperson made this statement in an interview with BBC Pidgin on Saturday when explaining that Mr Buhari’s changing of political parties cannot be likened to Benue State governor Samuel Ortom’s move from one party to another.
Mr Buhari was a member of the Congress for Progressive Change that merged to form the APC. When it was formed, Mr Ortom was a member of the APC until in 2018 when he dumped the party to join the PDP.
However, contrary to Mr Shehu’s claim that Mr Buhari “saved the country’s democracy”, instead the regime has been notorious for gross human rights abuses, extra judicial killing of protesters and massive clamp down on the media, considered by many as the worst in Nigeria’s history.
Mr Buhari in disobedience to court orders detained former National Security adviser, Dasuki Sambo; Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore; separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu, and leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, for several months in spite of court orders granting them bail.
Nigerians have also witnessed cases of killing of protesters across the country as the police and army continue to open live rounds on protesting citizens since Mr Buhari assumed office in 2015.
In 2015, shortly after Mr Buhari came into power, over 348 members of Shiites Islamic group were massacred and buried in a mass grave by the Nigerian military.
Amnesty International had in 2016 reported how the Nigerian military extra judicially killed at least 150 peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in the South-East part of the country.
A nationwide protest against years of police brutality and extra judicial killings, christened #EndSARS, ended on a tragic note when on the night of October 20, 2020, the military opened live rounds on young Nigerians gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.