Mixed Reactions Trail Buhari’s Second Chance

 

By Oji Odu

Why has the announcement of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the February 23, 2019 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) brought about a situation that can best be described as graveyard silence instead of the loud rejoicing that accompanies such announcement? Why are many Nigerians rather wearing long and gloomy faces?

Lamenting to the Magazine, Peter Oladipo, an unemployed father of three said his current ordeal began with the announcement of President Buhari as winner of the presidential polls. “ Following the announcement, my wife went haywire. Her behaviour is near madness.

“ She first began by weeping, before she started asking me of the next move because I lost my job about two years into this administration. Since then, I have not been able to secure another, and my hussles have not been able to improve things at home. She even threatened to take the children to her people.”

For Chinedu Okonkwo, a businessman, “what can someone who re-elected himself by intimidation and the butt of the gun offer Nigerians which he was unable to do in first last four years? He is administration and those he worked with have been questionable and full of controversies, translating in pathetic economic conditions. Only God can help us,” he said.

In his reaction to the Buhari victory, James Victor, a student, congratulated President Buhari not because he won the 2019 presidential election as the people’s choice, but “for rigging yourself into a 2nd term after benefitting from Democracy in 2015. Your first tenure took us back to your military regime. Since you are a professional in backwardness, Please do take us back to 1914, so we can destroy this amalgamation called Nigeria,” he said.

But, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari, on his ‘well-deserved’ victory, following his declaration as winner of the 2019 Presidential Election by INEC.

The Public Relations Officer of the students’ body,  Bestman Okereafor, gave the congratulatory message in a statement in Enugu.

“The leadership of the apex students governing body, NANS, heartily congratulates President Buhari over his well-deserved victory following his declaration as winner of the 2019 Presidential Election by the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

“This movement to victory had been made possible through the large turnout of Nigerian students and youths who are obviously the major determinants of the 2019 Election,’’ Okereafor said.

He, however, said that NANS was calling on other contestants and political parties, especially the candidate of the major opposition party the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to be honourable and concede defeat.

“Atiku and other contestants should congratulate the President-elect in the spirit of true sportsmanship and in the best interest of our democracy,’’ he noted.

Further, he said NANS was not unaware of some few hitches in some parts of the country before, during and after the elections ranging from violence, killing of ad-hoc staff, burning of INEC offices, malfunctioning card reader among others.

“We believe all these will be addressed in subsequent elections, Even as we pray to God to grant the families and loved ones all those who sacrificed their life’s during the cause of the election, you will forever be remembered as heroes and heroines of our democracy, he added.

Meanwhile, the PDP had from the beginning contested verified results being announced by INEC, in Abuja, two days after the vote to the final result which said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat his main rival Atiku Abubakar who scored 11,262,978 votes. That is a difference of 3.9 million votes.

At a press conference in Abuja on Monday, February 25, 2019,  PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus said: “All results currently been announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is incorrect, this is unacceptable to our party and the people.

“Secondly, officials of both President Buhari’s government and All Progressive Congress, APC, working with INEC officers, have tried to alter the course of history and disenfranchise our people through the cancellation and manipulation of figures for results already announced at polling units.”

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former vice President Atiku Abubakar has rejected the result of the February 23, 2019 election, declaring that he will challenge it in court. The former vice president who described the election as a sham, said he has never seen the country’s democracy so debased in the over 30 years of his sojourn in politics.

In a statement he personally signed yesterday morning, Atiku vowed to resist the emasculation of democracy in the country. However, while defending his decision to reject the outcome of the election the PDP candidate said it was statistically impossible for states ravaged by the war on terror to generate much higher voter turnouts than peaceful states. He also pointed out the suppression of votes in areas of his stronghold, stressing that he is ashamed as a Nigerian that such could be allowed to happen. Atiku however noted that if he had lost in a free and fair election, he would have called the victor within seconds of being aware of his victory.

“I thank the Nigerian people who trooped out in their millions to perform their civic duty this past Saturday. The patriotism of Nigerians is heartwarming and affirms my oft-repeated statement that we are brothers and sisters born from the womb of one mother Nigeria. With regards to the Presidential elections that took place on February 23, 2019, it is clear that there were manifest and premeditated malpractices in many states which negate the results announced.

“One obvious red flag is the statistical impossibility of states ravaged by the war on terror generating much higher voter turnouts than peaceful states. The suppressed votes in my strongholds are so apparent and amateurish, that I am ashamed as a Nigerian that such could be allowed to happen. How can total votes in Akwa-Ibom, for instance, be 50% less than what they were in 2015? Another glaring anomaly is the disruption of voting in strongholds of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers and diverse other states, with the authorities doing little or nothing and in some cases facilitating these unfortunate situations.

“The militarization of the electoral process is a disservice to our democracy and a throwback to the jackboot era of military dictatorship. In some areas of the country, such as, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Imo states, troops deployed for the elections turned their guns on the very citizens they were meant to protect. This is condemnable and should not be associated with our electoral process in the future.

“I am a democrat and there are democratic avenues available to present the truth to the nation and the watching world. Already, many international observers have given their verdicts, which corroborate our observations. I am sure more will come in the coming hours and days.

“If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South. “However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, February 23, 2019. 2007 was a challenge, but President Yar’Adua was remorseful. In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping their noses down on the Nigerian people.

“Consequently, I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court. I want to assure my supporters and the entire Nigerian people that together, we will not allow democracy to be emasculated. I hope and pray Nigerians will someday summon the courage to defend democracy. That is the only way we can move away from being the world headquarters for extreme poverty,” he said.

This is another test of Nigeria’s judiciary which will determine whether Nigeria is truly a democracy.

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