Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
It was a jubilant atmosphere in the suburbs of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, following the declaration of the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, as president-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the early hours of Thursday.
The celebratory crowd, mostly comprising of motorcycle operators, popularly called Okada riders, and taxi drivers, had taken to the streets of Kuje and other neighbouring villages, displaying all kinds of riding and driving stunts, including standing on top of their bikes, extended horning, and chants of Sai Baba (the popular Buhari campaign slogan).
Although business activities were not disrupted by the celebrating youths, many business owners that came out cautiously either left the doors of their shops ajar or closed them completely for fear of the activities degenerating into attacks or vandalism.
This is comes in the wake of warnings by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the party would explore every legal means to register its grievance against the declaration of Buhari as the winner of the 2019 election.
Walking out of the Collation Centre after refusing to sign the result sheet, the opposition party insisted that the announcement of Buhari by the electoral commission was an aberration.
INEC declared President Buhari winner after scoring 15,191,847 votes to defeat PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, who polled 11,262,978 votes.
Led by the PDP Collation Centre agent, Osita Chidoka, Nigeria’s main opposition party had deployed every weapon to stop the Commission announcing President Buhari as winner, including making reference to the number of cancelled votes across the country and other electoral malpractice.
Reacting however, INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu had argued that the difference between valid and cancelled votes was too insignificant to impact on the general outcome of the election, even as he assured that all the observations raised by the PDP would be necessary for future reforms, especially in the 2023 elections.
Storming out of the Collation Centre in protest, a former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) told newsmen that the results announced do not represent the valid votes of Nigerians.
“The PDP does not accept the result as representing the valid votes of Nigerians. We have made three issues: first, after all the investment in technology, we expected that INEC, after spending N27 billion in this year’s budget alone for technology, would have, for the purpose of transparency, not just for law, projected to us the result of what the card reader that they used displayed about the people that went through the card reader verification. That singular act has put a dent on the image of the election.
“The second one is the issue we raised about the number of registered vis-à-vis what the chairman now calls collated voters, which means that 1.6 million people are missing in the voter register. We think that issue is substantial enough to require a resolution.
“We also believed that the difference between the accredited voters and the votes cast which came to about 750,000 is an issue to be looked at. Finally, we believed that the cancellations that took place in the election impacting 2.7 million voters required to be looked into seriously.
“So, in our view, this election required to be reviewed, looked at again and possibly, we have a rerun. More importantly, we think that INEC should have looked consciously to the use of the card reader, the absence of card reader is a major violation in the elections, it renders that election null and void, that’s what the chairman promised us.
“So, for us in the PDP, we believe that this is a new low in Nigeria’s electoral history. Since 2015, we believe that Nigeria would have been making progress in the election, but for the violence. The issues that have arisen in this election, and lack of transparency that we saw in the election did not increase, neither did it improve the belief of Nigerians in the electoral process.
“However, the PDP remains a very lawful party, we believe in the law, we believe in the constitution of Nigeria, we are committed democrats. The PDP is a party that entrenched democracy in Nigeria, the PDP is the party that made it possible for Nigeria to enjoy the fruit and dividends of democracy.
“We will continue to support democracy in Nigeria, we will continue to promote democracy in Nigeria. But we have a good message for Nigerians, we want them to remain peaceful, we will explore all our options, including the belief that the legal process in Nigeria is one of the ways to resolve issues,” he stated.