The National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has said the party is ready to meet the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in court.
Atiku had at a press briefing where he rejected the result of the February 23 presidential election on Wednesday, indicated his intention to challenge it at the election petitions tribunal.
According to him, the election was manipulated in favour of the APC, saying voters in his strongholds were denied voting.
But in a response to the allegations, Oshiomhole at a press briefing on Thursday in Abuja said he was convinced that the election reflected the will of Nigerians despite pockets of violence recorded in some parts of the country.
He said it was sheer arrogance for Atiku to have said Nigeria’s future was tied to his presidency.
“Was he going to rule Nigeria against our wish? Citizens must hold their leaders accountable to their policy choices. Even, when he said if he would die, he would sell the NNPC; many people believed that he has collected deposit.
“It borders on arrogance for Atiku to suggest that our future is tied to his presidency. Atiku is destined never to be president of Nigeria. Leadership is about character. Atiku’s desperation is so obvious, so desperate that in 2003, he challenged his own boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, not to do a second term,” he said.
Oshiomhole said he deliberately refused to say the election was perfect because the APC was rigged, especially in the South-South in connivance with some INEC’s ad hoc staff and backed by some Resident Electoral Commissioners, whom he accused of working against the APC.
He said in one of the APC’s strongholds in his local government, INEC members of staff deliberately mutilated result sheets to the point that it was unacceptable and over 5,000 votes were cancelled in the process.
According to him, the REC rejected a request for a fresh tabulation to accommodate results collated from the polling unit level.
He said the manipulation allegedly aided by compromised INEC workers was responsible for the loss of the senatorial bid of Senator Godswill Akpabio.
He stated that his party had compiled several petitions to INEC on the irregularities.
Oshiomhole said, “Rather than Atiku saying that rigging has come to stay, and why the numbers don’t add up in the absence of massive rigging, I just think that he needs to be reminded the essence of our collective efforts with all those that I can describe as genuine friends of Nigeria, to improve the electoral process.
“We have petitions that we have written to INEC on how we were rigged out in Akwa Ibom State. It is interesting that it is the PDP that is complaining about the outcome of election in Akwa Ibom State.
“How do you explain that INEC cancelled so many units not only in Akwa Ibom State but many other states in order to be able to declare the PDP candidates as winners? That is how Senator Akpabio was rigged out in Akwa Ibom State.”
Oshiomhole wondered why Atiku had been moving from one party to another, describing him as an unstable politician.
He said the trend in the voting pattern from 1999 in the PDP strongolds had consistently reduced.
“He is such a political rolling stone. Does he think that Nigerians are so insane to think that a man who is not stable, whose interest is about himself and has confessed that he was going into the race to enrich his friends….that will be an impossible candidate to elect at a time like this. What gives him the sense of entitlement?”
“We are looking forward to meeting him (Atiku) in court. We will also have the opportunity of filing cross petition because in Adamawa State he had already lost the election before he did some magic that gave him that narrow victory and in many other parts of the country.
He added, “It is not about this election is perfect. It is about whether it substantially reflected the will of the people. The government has a duty to investigate every aspect of wrongdoing, record of violence, manipulation and kidnapping.
“If anybody was kidnapped, the affected official should take advantage of his freedom to lodge complaints with security agencies.
“Those responsible must be prosecuted. Until we begin to see people in jail for trying to manipulate the will of Nigerians by interfering in free and fair elections, we will keep on lamenting these incidences of various abuses.”
Buhari’s re-election, triumph of ordinary Nigerians over elite – FG
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has described Buhari’s electoral victory as the triumph of ordinary Nigerians over the nation’s elite.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made the remarks in Abuja on Thursday when he received the management of his ministry, who came to congratulate him on the victory of the APC in last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Last weekend’s election is a direct contest between ordinary Nigerians and the elite, most of whom are rent seekers. Of course, the ordinary Nigerians have won!” he said.
Mohammed said the President’s victory was a confirmation of the fact that ordinary Nigerians appreciated the pro-people policies of the Buhari administration which, he said, was doing more with far less resources.
“Overall, this government is doing more with less and is restoring decency and integrity to governance. Like the New York Times said, ‘the re-election of President Buhari is a referendum on honesty’. There is no better way to put it,” he stated.
While reeling out the policies that endeared President Buhari to the ordinary Nigerians, the minister said under the Social Investment Programme, the government feeds 9.3 million schoolchildren every day and some 500,000 unemployed graduates were employed under N-Power, in addition to some 300,000 families, who he said were benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer.
On the APC’s victory in Kwara, the minister thanked the management of his ministry for appreciating his ‘modest’ effort in delivering Kwara State from the grip of a crippling hegemony.
“I must stress – and I have said this before – that the credit for the liberation of Kwara goes to the good people of the state who, despite efforts to compromise them, refused to sell their votes.
Accept defeat and stop lying, BMO urges Atiku
Meanwhile, the Buhari Media Organisation has accused Atiku of twisting historical facts in a bid to discredit the outcome of the presidential election.
According to the group, the former Vice-President lied when he described the election as the worst in 30 years.
BMO in a statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, said, “Perhaps, the most embarrassing of Atiku’s half-truths is his claim that the 2019 presidential election is the worst he has seen in 30 years, but any one that witnessed elections in the country since 1999 would easily discountenance the former Vice-President’s position.
“Here is a man who was an integral part of the government that conducted the 2007 elections which even the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who benefited from it, described in uncomplimentary terms.
“Every adult Nigerian knows that at the time of the announcement of the results, some state presidential results had not been compiled or transferred to INEC headquarters in Abuja.
“Atiku was on the losing side then as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, yet he has the audacity to publicly denounce the 2019 election as worse than that one.”
The pro-Buhari group noted that it was instructive that local and international observers had a different view from Atiku’s position.
“Whereas the PDP presidential candidate dismissed the elections as filled with irregularities, international observers have since expressed a contrary view. The European Union Observer mission led by Maria Arena described the elections as the most democratic in the nation’s history.”
On Atiku’s position on voter turnout in Borno and Yobe states, the group said it was shocking that the opposition candidate expected it to be far lower than the 2015 figures.
“Today, the two states are largely free of Boko Haram activities though there had been pockets of attacks on military formations, so it is uncharitable for one of the zone’s most eminent politicians to talk down on the progress that his people have been witnessing in recent years for political expediency.
“What Nigerians saw on election day in Yobe and Borno states is a reflection of the new lease of life, unlike in 2015 when several villages and farmlands were deserted,” the group said.
Be humble in victory, Presidency tells APC members
However, the Presidency on Thursday asked the APC faithful to be humble in victory by not using hurtful words or issue threats against the losers in Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly polls.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who made the call in Abuja, noted that using hurtful words against the losers was an invitation to anger, which might lead to violence.
Enang, who spoke with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, made the appeal ahead of the March 9 governorship and state Assembly polls, the last phase of the 2019 elections.
The Liaison Officer said, “What we as a government and a people should do is to ensure that our statements, our actions, our celebrations and our reactions to those who lost should be tempered, temperate, measured, humble and such that are not capable of inciting the other party to anger.
“What we should also do, all of us in government, all those who have won as senators, members of the House of Representatives, our followers in the party should be that we speak less and work more to bring about unity and integration of those who have lost.
“The real winners in this election are the Nigerian voters; and we are conscious that about 11 million people voted for the other party while 15 million voted for our party.
“We will take steps to know the aspirations of those who voted there, what were their considerations? What did they want government to do? We will take that up and do.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, has asked Atiku to go to court and challenge the victory of Buhari as he had threatened to do.
Mustapha, who is Abubakar’s kinsman from Adamawa State, bragged that Buhari and his supporters were not jittery over Abubakar’s stance.
Speaking with reporters, he boasted, “We are not jittery at all because the process was open and transparent. It was a credible election and we will continue to savour the victory but in the process too, we will extend the hand of friendship to the opposition parties for the purpose of nation building and reconciliation.
“Our Electoral Act and the Constitution have both provided a window for whoever is dissatisfied with the process of election to seek redress. That is the path and we will encourage them to go along that path.”
On what Nigerians should expect from Buhari’s new administration after inauguration on May 29, the SGF stated that they should expect an inclusive government, improved economy, security and intense fight against corruption.
Abba Kyari meets service chiefs
Meanwhile, the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, held a brief meeting with Service Chiefs on Thursday at the Presidential Villa.
The agenda of the closed-door meeting was not made public.
Those who were at the Villa included the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Iba; and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar-Sadique.
France, Russia, S’Africa, Saudi, congratulate Buhari
Meanwhile, France, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other nations have congratulated Buhari on his re-election.
The Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexey Shebarshin, the UK Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in separate congratulatory messages, expressed the hope Buhari’s victory “will shape the destiny of this nation for the upcoming four years and beyond.”
On its part, the French Ministry wrote, “France congratulates President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election on February 23. It will continue to stand by Nigeria and to provide its full support for the implementation of the country’s priorities, especially economic diversification, job creation, counter-terrorism and the fight against corruption.”
Shebarshin wrote, “I am honoured to extend my congratulations to you personally, Mr President, and the people of Nigeria on the successful conduct of free, transparent and credible Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23, 2019, that will shape the destiny of this nation for the upcoming four years and beyond.”
The UK’s minister stated, “I offer my congratulations to President Buhari on securing a second term as the Nigerian President. The UK is a long-standing friend and partner of Nigeria and the Nigerian people, and a stable and prosperous Nigeria benefits Africa and the world.”
Congratulatory messages also came in from the Presidents of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.
Also, Saudi Arabia King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, on Thursday congratulated Buhari on his re-election victory at Saturday’s presidential poll.
Buhari, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, also received a similar message from the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,
While the Saudi king called Buhari on the telephone, the Qatari monarch sent a cable message to Buhari.