By Stephen Ubanna
Mahmood Yakubu, a professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Monday, February 25, 2019, kept to his promise to give Nigerians the results of the last Saturday Presidential election as Nigerians remain glued to their Television sets and transistor radios. The result presentation which started on the Monday, February 25, 2019 dragged on to early Wednesday, February 27 , 2019, with President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress winning the majority of votes cast during the election across the country and quickly followed by Atiku Abubakar, the Candidate of the main opposition party, People’s Democratic Party, PDP. In announcing the results, the INEC Chairman said the Katsina state born Nigerian President and Candidate of the APC, scored 15,191,847 to Atiku, the PDP Presidential Candidate’s11,262,978 votes.
According to him, based on the report from the states, the APC Candidate has satisfied the requirement of the law which ”states that to be declared President , a Candidate must have a majority of the votes cast nationwide and at least 25 percent of votes cast in two-thirds of the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja”. and consequently, declared the winner of the election. There was tears in PDP situation room in Abuja in Abuja, with the announcement of Buhari as the winner of the election.
The Value News learnt that no sooner than the announcement than congratulatory messages started pouring in from different parts of the country and other friendly Presidents from other parts of the world. It also threw Daura district and Katsina state and general into
Note that signs would win the election started when the state Returning officers accompanied by their Resident Electoral Commissioners, REC started filling out one after the another at the instance of the INEC boss to present their report.
The atmosphere was calm. This is because of the tight security at the National Collation centre that no one dare rise up to challenge the result in the midst of the crowd as was the case in 2015, where Attahiru Jega, a Professor and then INEC Chairman was challenged by Elder O Godsday
Yakubu, the current INEC helmsman, may have learnt from the mistakes of the past and thus, may not have provided the room for such to happen as those who found their way to the National Collation Centre were on invitation were there on invitation and given tag. There were 73 Political Parties that had presented Candidates for the election who were represented by their party agents. Indeed, before any presentation of any stat result,, the party agents were said to have inspected the result sheets to ensure that was not doctored on the instruction of the INEC boss.
The Commission may have used University Vice Chancellors as returning officers to give credibility to the election. The plan to use the Vice Chancellors and may have informed the reason why Buhari bowed to pressures to accede to the demand of the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria, ASUU to end their three months old Strike to participate in the electoral process.
Going by the arrangement for the staggered presentation of the Presidential election result, Ekiti state, which had no REC, may have given the APC Candidate, the good luck of winning the election with the impressive votes for him . At the last count he has won in the following states, Ekiti, Osun,Kwara, Nasarawa,Kogi,Gombe and Sokoto. Others are Kebbi, Zamfra, , Lagos, Kano, Katsina, Bauchi and Jigawa, taraba states. This is in addition to Yobe, Borno , Niger and Kaduna states . The returning officer in Yobe state had disclosed during his presentation that on the day of the election, there was a Boko Haram attack in Geidam, which delayed voting for two hours, but however noted that the voting went on smoothly in the state because of the tight security.
The question on the lips of most people was : how Borno and Yobe states which are under Boko Haram siege, could have turned out the highest number of votes during the election? . There were reports that in some of the Communities in the north east and north west , particular, Borno and Yobe states , there were no elections as the ballot papers were deliberately thumb printed in favour of the ruling APC under the close watch of the security operatives . The election results in the two states may have given PDP room to protest the results and to call for the cancellation and a subsequent rerun of the election in the two states.
Atiku of the opposition PDP, won in the following states Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Adamawa,
Atiku’s votes in Rivers state state may be unimpressive compared to past elections because the votes from Abonnema, Akuku Toru, Ikwerre, Okrika , and Emuoha, regarded as PDP strongholds were cancelled on allegations of violation of electoral laws. The state returning officer had made it clear while presenting his report that only the result of 17 local government Areas out of the 23 in the state that were tabulated and presented at the National Collation centre.
Recall that prior to the announcement of the election results from the states, Buhari had responded to a Journalist question in Daura, whether if he loses: will he congratulate the winner?. His response was in the affirmative: I will congratulate myself. Even during his electioneering Campaigns in the states visited, he had told the people to” vote for any Candidate of their choice out of the 73 Presidential Candidates”’, an indication that he had already known he will win the election. INEC may not have helped matters because of the malfunctioning of the card readers in some voting centres in the states despite the repeated assurance by the Commission that the smart readers were 100 percent reliable as it had been configured by the technical staff without the use of contractors to do it. The situation may have been made worse by over voting and under age voting in some states in the north which were said to be under the close watch of electoral officials and security operatives but could not do anything for fear of being attacked. Security Operatives may have worsened the situation by turning their eyes away from party thugs, to hijack ballot boxes or burn ballot papers,
In Lagos, for instance, the country’s Commercial nerve
Aware that he would win the his reelection bid even the election result was made official, the Katsina born Nigerian President was cited wearing Canvas going to his farm in Daura last weekend. People who saw him were surprised at the confidence he exhibited as he broke security protocols to greet people which was un usual He was said to have cheerfully told well wishers ” I love my farm”., which further gave people the impression that he has won the election but kept a closely guided secret until the results from the states are made public by electoral umpire.
He may have won the majority votes Nasarawa state but there are question marks over the conduct of the election in the state A Chieftain of the All Progressive Grand Alliance. APGA. who claimed to be at Maraba, in the state, on Saturday. February 23, 2019, on the day of the Presidential and National Assembly election has contested the votes cast in the area , noting that voting had started between 2 PM and 3 PM because of the late arrival of materials and wondered where the APC got the majority votes from the state .
Atiku may have lost the election because those who had contested the party Presidential primaries with him in Port Harcourt and who promised to work for him in his Campaigns including Aminu Tambuwal , governor of Sokoto state, never helped him. Take for instance, Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano state, and a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria , Sule Lamido, a former governor of Jigawa, who lost their states to Buhari and APC, an indication that they hated him. The Adamawa born politician may have over rated Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and Senate President, that he made him Chairman, of his Presidential Campaign Council but turned out to be a big baggage to him as he lost Kwara, Nigerm Nasarawa in north-south geo-political region.
Many believe that if these former PDP Presidential Candidates had delivered their respective states as promised Atiku, it would have boosted his chances of winning the 2019 Presidential election. This is because the five states in the south east and the six states in the south-geo-political region were solidly in support of Atiku’s Presidency as they came out en-masse to vote during the election: one man one vote. b
The PDP Presidential Candidate, who had made Nigerians and the International Community to believe that as a ”Democrat”, he would congratulate the winner, may have gone back on his words . He was said to have begun discussions with some Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, with the hope of rejecting the Presidential election results, which many described as not being a true reflection of the will of the people. Kwankwaso advice thto Atiku to accept the resut as being ”free and fair” shows that he never supported him during the election.
Given Buhari style of Administration in the last four years, it is obvious, that in this his second term in office, most of his key appointments would still go to the south west, north east and north west, to compensate the people of the three geo-political regions for their support.The south-east and the south- south should not expect any key appointment from the Buhari Administration for turning their back on him during the election which produced him as President.
He may have senta signal to Nigerians opposed to him of what to expect in this his second coming with the arrest of Buba Galadima, his former political ally who formed Reformed APC, a faction of APC, to join forces with the PDP to fight the APC in the 2019 general elections by masked security operatives. Kola Ologbodiyan, Spokes person of PDP, had vowed that the arrest of Galadima would not cow the pary to submission insisting that the” will of the people must prevail”. Whether Buhari would bow to pressures to release him remain to be seen
Meanwhile, the government has threatened to arrest politicians plotting to truncate the electoral process to create room for an interim government to be formed in the country. Discerning Nigerians see this warning as targeting at the opposition party members, particular, the PDP, which had to watch it or many of them may find themselves in the Department of State Services, DSS, or Police net including Atiku , the Party Presidential Candidate.
Worried by the issues that may have arisen during the Conduct of the election, Yakubu, the INEC, boss , has promised that the Commission officials would meet to consider the reports of the returning officers from each of the states and complaints of Nigerians over the election to take a final decision on the election.
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