2019: Tasks Before The Next President?

By Stephen Ubanna

Between now and early Tuesday, Nigerians would know their next President   for the Saturday, February 23, 2019, Presidential and National Assembly Elections.   This is because the  counting and collation of votes  of the election have begun in earnest. As at late Sunday, the results of the Presidential elections have started trickling in with Atiku and Buhari running neck to neck.    

 The Election result may be announced tentatively without including the votes from some cancelled wards in the Commercial city of Lagos and one of President Muhammadu Buhari major  strongholds, Rivers and Anambra, Atiku Abubakar , Presidential candidate of People’s Democratic Party strongholds.

 Note that Lagos, where some f the wards were nullified because of burning of ballot papers and snatching of ballot boxes is the home state of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chairman, All Progressive Congress , APC,Presidential Council while Anambra is the home state of Peter Obi, the Vice Presidential Candidate of the PDP and Rivers, the home state of Uche Secondus, national Chairman of the PDP.

The Commission had blamed the cancellation and subsequent  postponement  of elections  in some wards in Lagos, Rivers and Anambra states to the burning of electoral materials and other acts of electoral violence to a new date yet to be announced. Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, INEC, was said to have mandated  Resident Electoral  Commissioners, RECs, in the three states to submit  comprehensive reports to enable the Commission to take further decisions ,including new dates for  election in those areas

Atiku Abubakar: Presidential Candidate , PDP

The enthusiasm with which the electorates could have voted in  the February 23, 2019, election , may have died down with the Post postponement of the earlier general elections by one week. This is because of the low turnout of most of the voters in different parts of the country. In one of the wards in Lagos state, there were said to be over 700 left over voter ballot papers after voting which was struckout in the presence of the party agents and security operatives by the INEC ad-hoc officials.

The Electoral Umpire may have put a close watch on the parties to avoid vote buying by the engaging the services of Ibrahim Magu, led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. whose officials were everywhere to forestall vote selling and vote buying during  the elections especially by the two major parties, APC and PDP.

It was not surprising why the parties could not penetrate the ranks of the INEC  ad-hoc staff who were heavily guarded by the Department of State Services, DSS, personnel and other security operatives including soldiers.

Many had expected Atiku, the PDP , Candidate , to win , in Olusegun Obasanjo, a former President’s ward in Ogun stae , given his support for him, in Ogun state, but he was said to have lost woefully to Buhari, APC, showing that that he has no control over his workers  on who to vote. Recall that there was a last minute in the social media where the former President was said to to have appealed to the  electorate to vote for Buhari during the election. This may have turned the heart of many of the voters in the Obasanjo ward against Atikubu, the PDP Candidate. It was not surprising why Buhari pulled 87 votes in the ward to Atiku’s 27.  The major surprises during the election  was the defeat of Atiku  ,in his own  polling  Unit 012 PU, Ajiya Ward , Yola, Adamawa state, by Buhari, the APC, Candidate. Buhari had polled 186 votes to Atiku’s167 . The defeat is coming on the heels of Barkindo Mustapha, the Lamido of Adamawa appeal to the people of the state to vote for their son who is contesting the election on the ticket of PDP.

 More worrisome was the defeat of Atiku in Madobi Local government  area of  Kano  state , where Rabiu Kwankwaso , a former governor of Kano state, who is like a cult  and one staunch supporters of the PDP Candidate.  Perhaps, the major upset during the election was the loss of  the two polling units for those living in the Presidential by Buhari to Atiku, fueling speculation that he unpopular with the staff of the villa. The Adamawa state politician was said to beaten Buhari with 17 votes. The voting pattern in most of the ward released so far clearly shows the direction of the election: a straight between Buhari, APC Candidate and Atiku, the PDP Presidential Candidate.

Recall that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Emir of Kano, had narrowed the 2019 Presidential election  down to two Candidates.: Buhari, regarded as Mr. Integrity in polical circles and Atiku, who has the capacity. Note that Buhari , while casting his vote in his ward in Daura, had said that he knows , he would win the election and therefore would congratulate him.  He did not believe that Atiku, of the PDP,  or any other Candidate could beat him in the election because of the structures  on ground to facilitate winning the election while Atiku, who described himself as a democrat said he would congratulate the winner if he loses the election.

Meanwhile, Abdulsalami Abubakar, an Army General and a former Head of State, has appealed  to Buhari and the other Contestants  to accept   the results when they are released , if they win or lose. ”I want to appeal to all contestants  to know that only  one of them will emerge the winner, and whoever emerges the winner  I hope the losers will accept”, he had advised.

According to the electoral laws, the Candidate  with the most votes would be declared  the winner in first  round of the election on condition that he gets twenty-five percent  of the votes in two-thirds of the country’s 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja. There  are over 70 Candidates  that had contested  for the February 23, 2019, election but Atiku, the PDP Candidate  represents the biggest threat  to Buhari, who is seeking re-election.

Political watchers fears that the next President  would have much prom at hand such as  power shortages, corruption , security threats  across the country and a2 sluggish economy. These are problems that ought to have been addressed by previous administrations. including the incumbent .

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