Twelve presidential candidates in the just-concluded presidential and National Assembly elections yesterday rallied round President Muhammadu Buhari to enable him deliver on his “Next Level” agenda for Nigeria in the next four years.
They hinged their renewed support for the president on the need for the country to move forward so that Nigerians can enjoy the dividends of good governance, which Buhari initiated in his first term, which ends on May 28, 2019.
The presidential candidates, who are from the 36 political parties that endorsed the president for the February 23 election, which he won, appealed to Buhari to be magnanimous in victory.
Through the chairman of the Forum of Presidential Candidates, Shitu Mohammed-Kabir, the candidates, who met yesterday in Abuja, said: “We have urged the Buhari administration that irrespective of political party or religion or tribe, it should pick the best brains across the land and those who can contribute to the development of the country across the nation.”
The forum, however, called on the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to resist the pressure being mounted on him to challenge Buhari’s victory at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
While commending the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the conduct of the election, Mohammed-Kabir charged it to improve on its operational logistics in the governorship and state assemblies’ elections coming up this Saturday.
The group had adopted Buhari as its consensus candidate in the run-up to the February 23 presidential election.
According to Mohammed-Kabir, “the interest of Nigeria will not be served by any party or individual resorting to litigation, either to upturn the verdict of INEC or challenge the conduct of the presidential election.”
He said that the time had come for Nigerians, especially politicians to do away with primordial factors and be guided by all sense of patriotism, adding that “we urge the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, to disregard the advice of those asking him to challenge the outcome of the election in court.”
The forum acknowledged that Atiku has the right to contest the outcome of the election, but noted that such litigations could cause a setback for the people-oriented programmes of the incumbent administration.
Mohammed-Kabir said: “We have not said that he (Atiku) cannot go to court, but we are saying that he should not go to court.”
The forum formally congratulated President Buhari on what it described as “his well-deserved victory at the poll.”
Mohammed-Kabir said that the pattern of voting and the large turnout for the election was an attestation to “the fact that Nigerians are pleased with Buhari, his style of leadership and performance in the last three and a half years.”
PMB’s Re-election Divine, Says Kogi Gov
To the governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the re-election of President Buhari is ordained by God.
He thanked the Kogi people for working tirelessly for the victory of the president in the state.
While receiving leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) support groups in Lokoja, the state capital yesterday, Governor Bello said that Nigeria would witness more developmental strides in the coming years under the renewed mandate of the president.
Bello said: “Let me thank you most sincerely for re-electing Baba to continue his good work for Nigeria. His victory was a divine confirmation of God’s presence in the affairs of Nigeria.
“It shows that beyond the campaigns of calumny against our party, the people saw through the genuine intentions of Mr. President and appreciated all that he has done to defeat poverty, insurgency and corruption in our country.
“I never doubted the fact that Mr. President would win the election convincingly. He is a Nigerian trusted by Nigerians to fix Nigeria. His hard work and patriotism have been rewarded by the electorate,” he added.
Bello tasked the APC support groups to work assiduously for the total victory of the party in the legislative election on March 9.
The governorship election in the state will hold in November this year.
Earlier, the leader of one of the groups, Comrade John Adeolu, thanked the governor for supporting all the Buhari Support Groups to deliver Kogi State to the president.
Adeolu said: “We believe in your leadership and we have done it for Mr. President through your support and encouragement. We will do it again.”
PDP, Atiku File Petition Against PMB’s Victory Today
Meanwhile, the PDP and Atiku have hinted that its legal team would file a petition today against the results of presidential elections announced by INEC last Wednesday which affirmed the re-election of Buhari.
By virtue of section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), an election petition must be filed within 21 days after the date of the declaration of the result of the poll.
PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said at the expanded national caucus meeting in Abuja yesterday, that the party’s resort to the law court was largely informed by the overwhelming rigging of the polls by the APC.
Alleging that INEC officials were intimidated to carry out the bidding of the ruling party, Secondus flayed the President Buhari-led government’s “use of the military to harass the electorate in some parts of the country during the election.
He said: “Nothing will make us waver in the pursuit of justice. The decision to go to court has been finalised and the process has begun. We will file our petition either today (yesterday) or tomorrow (today). No matter what anyone will do or what the APC will say, we will seek justice to the highest court of the land.
“What happened during the election has never happened in the history of this country. They are celebrating criminality and evil. Nigerian leaders are not talking and if you don’t speak against evil, it will consume everybody. The National Peace Committee is not saying anything.
“INEC and its ad-hoc staff were intimidated and everyone is quiet. If nothing is done, we will go back deeper and deeper in this situation we have found ourselves,” he said.
Secondus stressed that “the decision to go to court has been finalised and agreed and the process is on. The lawyers have been assembled. We may be in court today or tomorrow. No one can stop us”
He said that “no matter the propaganda of the APC, we will seek justice till the last drop of our blood. We believe justice will be done and God Almighty will give justice.”
On the alleged irregularities that characterised the presidential election, Secondus lamented that with the manner in which the military and other security agencies were deployed to undermine the integrity of the elections, there may not be any need for a proper election in 2023, adding that leaders might simply emerge through an announcement by the presidency.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on those who are celebrating illegality, manipulation and criminality to have a rethink. This is because such evil may boomerang to consume them,” Secondus warned.
The PDP chairman urged INEC and security agencies to ensure that the alleged violence, manipulation and suppression of voters in the party’s strongholds during the February 23 poll, were not repeated in the governorship and state assemblies’ polls on March 9.
“I want to ask INEC whether what it did on February 23, will be repeated on March 9? Where will history place you over what happened on February 23 where the entire military force was unleashed to rig election for the incumbent?
“It would have been even better if we had adopted the Thailand situation where the military shared offices with civilians. But our constitution did not provide for that,” he said.
He, therefore, cautioned INEC and the security agencies to steer clear of the governorship and state legislative polls, saying that “the world is watching them.”
Secondus also called for the release of Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie (lawyer and associate) and Alhaji Babalele Abdullahi, son-in-law of Atiku, who he described as “political detainees.”
Decrying the detention of the duo, he said: “We won’t shut our mouth and no one will intimidate us.”
Secondus also accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of being a tool of the APC to intimidate PDP members.
The expanded PDP caucus meeting was attended by Atiku, Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, Senator Dino Melaye, Senator Philip Aduda, former deputy Senate president, Ibrahim Mantu, PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman, Wali Jibril, former governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada and other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
Others were former governor of Cross River, Liyel Imoke, former minister of Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu, former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, spokesman of the party’s campaign, Buba Galadima, former presidential media aide, Doyin Okupe, former PDP national secretary, Senator Ben Obi.
…To Petition UN Over Military’s Role In Polls
Similarly, the PDP has resolved to petition the United Nations (UN) and other global institutions over the role the military played in the presidential and National Assembly elections.
The opposition party also alleged yesterday that the ruling APC had been trying to induce its members to defect.
Addressing newsmen after the PDP caucus meeting, the party’s national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the PDP had decided to file a petition against the military despite the accolades foreign observers gave the election.
Ologbondiyan said that the fact that the international community had commended the election does not stop the party’s quest for justice over the killing and manipulation linked to the military in the course of the election.
He said: “Caucus commended Nigerians for refusing the harassment, intimidation and militarisation of the electoral process and participating in the election but noted that the mandate that was freely given to our candidate was stolen and as such the party and the candidate jointly resolved to go to the tribunal and reaching the end of what is permissible within our legal system to get back our mandate on behalf of Nigerians.
“Caucus further noted the role of the military in the February 23 election and resolved that we will report the actions of the military through a petition to the UN as well as other global democratic institutions on the role of our military in the February 23 election,” he said.
Ologbondiyan said that the caucus also reviewed the situation in Kano State particularly as it concerned the court decision and noted that an appeal had been filed against the judgement and “we will continue to study and follow the situation as it develops.
The PDP spokesman said that the caucus “raised issues about the “harassment, intimidation and cajoling of our members by the Buhari presidency as well as APC’s plan to intimidate the people’s president, former VP Alhaji Atiku Abubakar saying that he should not go to court. We insist that our party and our candidate have resolved to seek legal redress on the stolen mandate.”
On the forthcoming governorship election, the party decried the militarisation of the South-South and the rigging which the APC is allegedly plotting ahead of the election.
Group Threatens To Sue Atiku
Also yesterday, members of the Better Nigeria Group (BNG) have threatened to sue Atiku if he failed to challenge the outcome of the presidential election at the tribunal.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, BNG spokesman, Mr. Dickson Iroegbu, said that the irregularities in the presidential election should not be allowed to stand for the sake of future generations.
Members of BNG who wore black to the press conference said that they were mourning the loss of lives occasioned by the brigandage and violence which characterised the election.
The group alleged that “the outcome of the presidential election does not reflect the choice and the mandate of Nigerians. The spate of deliberate irregularities aimed at tilting the results toward the incumbent and APC candidate and the subsequent declaration of victory for the same candidate is an assault on our democracy.
“This brazen impunity should not be allowed to stand unchallenged otherwise amongst other things, our democracy will be dead forever. The electoral process is the beacon of democracy and remains so. Elections must not only be credible but must be seen as credible. The sham of an election which took place on the said date and the subsequent declaration leaves so much to wonder about credibility,” BNG said.
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