Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi have rejected Bola Tinubu’s emergence as president-elect.
NewsOnline reports that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi yesterday rejected the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as president-elect in last Saturday’s presidential election.
Describing the election as grossly flawed, Tinubu and Obi vowed to challenge the outcome of the poll in court.
Specifically, Atiku said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed woefully in conducting the poll, making it the worst conducted election since the return to democracy in 1999.
ALSO: S’Court Asked To Declare INEC’s Pronouncement of Tinubu as President-Elect Null, Void
Atiku who spoke at his first post-election press conference after INEC’s declaration of Tinubu as winner, added that manipulation and fraud that attended the election was unprecedented in the history of the nation.
He said, “This battle to right the wrongs of Saturday is not about me. It is a continuation of my battles to deepen democracy and for a better life for our people. It is about the future of Nigerian youths.
“I know that Nigerians, especially the youth, are traumatized by the developments, but I want to urge them to conduct themselves peacefully. Like I have done over the years, I assure you that I will commit the rest of my life in ensuring that true democracy, which affirms the supremacy of your votes and your will, will take firm footing and guarantee a stable, prosperous and peaceful Nigeria. This is more so as Nigeria represents the hope of Africa and the Black World.
“It is my hope that the judiciary will redeem itself this time around and rise to the society’s expectation as the last HOPE. In the end who wins is not as important as the credibility of our elections and electoral processes.
“I call on all men and women of goodwill to join hands with us in the vanguard to defend our constitution from the brigandage of anti-democratic forces.”
Indicating that he was heading to court, Atiku said his lawyers were already studying the results of the election and whatever they advise, the PDP leadership would meet and then proceed from there.
On whether he has confidence in the judiciary to get justice, he recalled that he took Obasanjo to court 11 times and won him hands down.
“I swear I never saw any judge. Do you think it is possible today to do it? I cannot say whether it is the same judiciary or not until I test them. If I don’t get a favorable judgement at the supreme court I will appeal to God,” he stated.
The former vice president said he was not aware of any reconciliation overtures from Tinubu.
“I am not aware that governors tried to reach me. I was at home all through,” he stated in reaction to reports that some governors tried to appease him as part of the national reconciliation move by Tinubu.
On whether he regretted not working with Obi, Atiku who noted that the Labour Party candidate left the PDP too early, however added that he is open to an alliance talks with Obi.
He added that as much as Obi took PDP’s votes in the South East and South South, “that, of course, will not make him president.”
“To be president you need votes across Nigeria. Peter is welcome to dialogue with PDP; we are ready to dialogue with him on whether to form an alliance or not.”
He added that if Obi had stayed back in PDP, he could have fought the governors to retain him as running mate just like he did in 2019.
He recalled that he was the first candidate to commit to forming a government of national unity.
Atiku, who recalled that he had contested for president in the past with Igbo politicians as running mates, said “I will be stepping stone to Igbo president”
He added that he told Igbo leaders that they should “Negotiate for power, you don’t fight for it.”
On the just concluded election he said, “The 2023 presidential election presented our nation and its people the greatest opportunity for a reset. We had everything going for us: a legal framework in the 2022 Electoral Act and the BVAS technology. The enthusiasm of Nigerians to turn out and in large numbers was an added bonus.
“However, the dreams and aspirations of Nigerians who braced all the challenges to go and cast their votes on Saturday, 25th of February, 2023, were shattered by the conduct of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which failed to live up to expectations. The weekend election was neither free nor fair.
“Preliminary assessments indicate that it is the worst conducted elections since the return to democratic rule. The manipulation and fraud that attended this election was unprecedented in the history of our nation.
“I can still not understand why the electoral umpire was in such a hurry to conclude collation and announcement of the result, given the number of complaints of irregularities of bypassing of the BVAS, failure of uploading to the IREV, and unprecedented cancellations and disenfranchisement of millions of voters in breach of the Electoral Act and the commission’s own guidelines. It was indeed a rape of democracy.
“Having consulted with leaders of our party and Nigerians from different walks of life, I have come to the conclusion that the processes and outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly election of last Saturday was grossly flawed in every material particular, and as such must be challenged. This has been attested to by both local and international observers.
“I want to believe that this was not the legacy that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised. For President Buhari, it is not too late to make amends for the good of our country and the future generations and indeed to assure his legacy.”
Earlier yesterday, PDP asked the INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The party also reiterated its call for the cancellation of the Presidential election declaration in line with its powers under Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2022.
The party stated this this while rejecting the declaration and return of the presidential candidate of APC, Tinubu, as president-elect as INEC.
National publicity secretary of PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, in a statement said, “The PDP demands that INEC immediately withdraws the Certificate of Return issued to the Presidential Candidate of the APC and cancel the Presidential election declaration in line with its powers under Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2022.”
The party insisted that INEC in declaring the APC Presidential Candidate as winner, acted contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of the 2023 Presidential election.
On his part, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Obi insisted that he won the 2023 presidential election adding that he will reclaim his mandate.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Obi however said the 2023 presidential election would go down as the most controversial election in the History of Nigeria.
He said, “We won the election. We will explore all legal action to reclaim our candidate,” Obi said, adding that he has been asked to go to the court and will prove how he won the election.
“We were told that about 11 million registered in 2022 which pushed the voters to around 94 million. But 70 million collected their PVCs to vote. I have confidence in the judiciary because I’ve been in the court since 2003. They know their custom, I am going to do the right thing”.
Obi said it was not possible that Nigeria would conduct an election 63 years after independence and the poll would be like last Saturday’s presidential poll.
He told his supporters that the election coming up on March 11 should be accorded the same seriousness.
Obi thanked them for working hard work, assuring all Obidient who believe a new Nigeria is possible that a new Nigeria is indeed possible.
“Myself and Datti are committed to a new Nigeria. I don’t know how they feel now, but the unwanted attack shows that a new Nigeria is possible seeing Jenifer who was attacked but ensures she voted.
“It is a clear violation of the electoral rule and guidelines that we were assured of,” Obi said.
Noting that the presidential poll will go down as the most controversial election ever conducted in Nigeria, Obi urged Nigerians to remain peaceful and humble, saying it was not the end, but the beginning of a journey for a better and a new Nigeria.
Vowing to go to court, Obi said, “We insisted that we will be governed by the rule of law. We will explore all legal action to reclaim our candidate. We won the election. We will build a country,” Obi said he is not in alliance with any political party.
“We are not in talk with other parties we are meeting as aggrieved parties. If we use the process we used today in the election, how are we going to arrest the kidnappers? On this issue, I am challenging the process”.
Also, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said despite the fact that the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections have been won and lost it will still go to court and challenge the results.
SDP which won some senatorial and House of Representatives seats in last Saturday’s elections said it will not challenging the presidential election results but that of the Senate and House of Representatives seats.
National chairman of SDP, Alhaji Shehu Gabam, who stated this during a press conference at the party’s headquarters yesterday, said his party won many seats but was denied adding that they are going to challenge the results of such places in the court.
Let’s Meet There, Asiwaju Dares PDP, LP Candidates
Apparently not one who is prone to taking such a challenge lightly, president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, dared the PDP and LP candidates to meet him in court.
Tinubu who spoke through the spokespersons of the APC presidential campaign council, Festus Keyamo (SAN) and Bayo Onanuga, Tinubu said it was a welcome development for Atiku and Obi to seek redress in court as aggrieved parties if they are convinced that they have proof of electoral frauds.
According to him, the decision by the duo is certainly better than coaxing their supporters to the streets and instigating social unrest.
In a statement issued by the director, Media and Publicity, of the APC presidential campaign council, Onanuga, Tinubu said Obi’s claim that the polls were not free and fair is false.
Onanuga stated: “Going to court is part of the electoral process and it is the most decent, statesmanlike and civilised course of action to take. We salute the decision. It is surely better than calling supporters to the streets and instigating social unrest.
“Before Mr. Obi goes to court, we consider it necessary to challenge some specific claims in his press address.
“Contrary to his statement, it is not true that the election held 25 February was not free and fair.
“The 2023 election is one of the most transparent and peaceful elections in the history of Nigeria. It is because the process was credible that made it possible for Mr. Obi’s Labour Party to record the over six million votes it got contrary to pre-election forecasts.
“That Labour Party and Mr. Obi surprised bookmakers by winning in Lagos State, Nasarawa, Plateau, Delta and Edo where there are sitting governors of either the All Progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party validates the credibility of the election. Those governors have entrenched political machinery.”
Tinubu argued that for Obi to have staged a major upset by trouncing him in Lagos and other parts of the country attests to the credibility of the election process, adding that in the South East states, most of the sitting governors contested the senatorial election and lost to little known candidates of Labour Party.
Onanuga continued: “The Labour Party also swept the entire five South East states under the control of either APGA, PDP or APC.
“We believe that the Labour Party Presidential Candidate contradicted himself and exposed himself to public ridicule by suggesting that the election was only credible in states and places his party won.”
Onanuga added that Nigerians rejected Obi because he anchored his presidential campaign on the failed strategy of ethnicity and religion, the divisive and dangerous politics that has hobbled the progress of our country for decades.
On his part, the director of Public Affairs and chief spokesperson, the APC presidential campaign council asked Atiku to stop being delusional, saying the PDP flag bearer destroyed his party and reaped the full consequence of his indiscretion.
Keyamo who is the minister of state for Labour and Employment said, “Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should be thankful that he even exceeded expectations in the elections by coming 2nd; with all the distractions and fractured party with which he campaigned he must have sensed beforehand that he was headed for a humiliating defeat that should have put him a distant 3rd or 4th in the elections. His performance was therefore the best he could achieve.
“Firstly, Atiku Abubakar breached the zoning principle within his own party by insisting on running for President when that was clearly against the mood of the nation; even after emerging as a candidate, the PDP itself continued to rub insult on the faces of southern leaders in the Party by insisting on keeping the position of National Chairman in the North.
“This obviously led to the rebellion of the G5 Governors and their subsequent sabotage of the PDP before the polls and at the polls by campaigning against ATIKU’S candidature. His failure to unite his party and manage this post-primaries fall-out was his eventual undoing.
“One wonders, then, how he expected to have won the election. It is also comical to see that he claims victory at the polls together with Mr. Peter Obi with whom his party has been holding Press Conferences.”
Noting that Nigerians have since seen through Atiku’s ambition which he said is merely self-serving, Keyamo said Tinubu is fully prepared to meet the former VP in court.
“Atiku Abubakar’s decision to challenge the outcome of the results is welcome. We are prepared to meet his challenge, no matter the nature of the challenge, anywhere and anytime.
“If ATIKU Abubakar is not embracing the olive branch extended to him and other losers in the 2023 elections by the President-elect, ASIWAJU Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the least he can do is to quietly relocate to Dubai which has become his traditional home base,” Keayamo noted.
Be Calm, CSOs Tell Nigerians
Meanwhile, some of the electoral observers that monitored the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, Polling Unit Ambassadors of Nigeria (PUAN) and Coalition of Civil Society Orgnisations, have called on Nigerians to remain calm and wait for the courts to decide.
According to the CSOs, Nigerians have put much effort for the success of the implementation of the electoral act 2022, adding that the citizens should wait for answers from the electoral umpire and the court.
The Ambassador General of PUAN, Suleiman Dabas, in a statement, said Nigerians must work hard to find a professional and global acceptable standard or practice to address their grievance which is already provided by the Nigeria constitution and the electoral act 2022.
Dabas pleaded with all Nigerians home and abroad not to take laws into their hands, but to use all available means as provided by the law to seek redress for all grievances.
He also called on all stakeholders in the electoral process to talk to their supporters and agents to remain calm and ensure peace prevails in Nigeria”.
“PUAN and other Civil Society groups have identified some of the challenges experienced during the Presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives was the inability of Nigeria’s electoral umpire the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to upload election results at some polling Units. PUAN stands by this technology of INEC as we believe that election results cannot be rigged at the polling unit,” Dabas added.
He also said that the “election result collation center” was the “major problem” during the last elections adding that some of the challenges should be addressed before the governorship and state house of assembly elections.
He called on Nigerians to give the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and the Commission a chance to redeem the situation.
“Elections will always come and go, but we the people will remain,” he said.