Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Ex-presidential spokesman and one of the spokespersons of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, Sani Umar, speaks on the just concluded governorship election in Kaduna State and the resolve of the party and its candidate to approach the election petition tribunal to reclaim its allegedly stolen mandate.
Governorship election in Kaduna State has come and gone, from the perspective of your party, how would you assess the contest?
My assessment of the whole thing is that, that election did not reflect the true feeling of the people and that was why there was no jubilation anywhere in the state.
The people wanted change and they voted for change. But the results were manipulated severally. First, there were connivance between the government and electoral officials to return some results of the presidential. If one takes a look at Kaduna North, Buhari got about 97,000 during the presidential election and El-Rufai also got the same figure during the governorship election. Atiku of PDP got about 27,000 and Ashiru again got the same figure. That means it was the same result of the presidential election that was returned. Take a look at Zaria; it was almost the same thing. Take a look at Kauru, though the figure was a bit altered but when you do a simple subtraction, the figures were almost the same thing. The different was about 2,000 which was the same thing in presidential. It was just the same pattern of rigging that was carried out. And then, of course, people were sent to our strongholds to go and disrupt election, to go and scatter the whole exercise so that we would not get the figures we used to get in those areas. In Chikun Local Government Area, there was no election in a ward in that local government.
Also, most of the results that were cancelled belong to the PDP. Any cancellation you see is from the PDP strongholds. So, we cannot accept that kind of results because it was just connivance and we shall challenge it in court.
But, do you think your party and its candidate will get justice at the election petition tribunal?
Do you trust the Nigerian judiciary? Well, whether we believe in it or not, it is immaterial. What is important is that we are taking our matter to the tribunal. Now it is left for the election petition tribunal to look at the matter fairly, objectively and equitably. If they fail to do their job, at least, the whole world will know that we have presented facts and evidences necessary for us to reclaim our mandate. The ordinary person knows the truth. So, when you see the truth, you can’t change it.Take for example, the returning officer while declaring the results gave the total accredited voters as 1.4 million. But, if you add the total votes cast between PDP and APC alone, it is over 1.8 million. If you add some other parties, you are likely going to get about two million plus. That was arithmetical fact. Do you need anybody to tell you that there was manipulation?
Now, if you get two million plus and the total voters in Kaduna State is three million plus, the percentage will then stand at about sixty five percent of the people who voted which is not the true situation on ground. You are a journalist who went round during the election. Would you say the turnout during the presidential and governorship elections were the same? So, there was foul play and that was why we want to approach the court for it to look at our argument and understand the position we are coming from and of course, reverse those illegalities.
What specific evidence do you have to back some of your claims?
You know I am a participant both at the presidential and governorship levels. I am very much aware that all the results recorded for PDP were devoid of rigging. We worked hard to get those results. There were those they even refused to credit to us because. Imagine, Kaduna South where we have large followers in Kakuri, Television, Barnawa and so forth where we have impressive turnout, yet, APC recorded for themselves 102,000. They were just awarding figures using the limit of the presidential. We all know for instance that, the governorship election was not as populated as that of the presidential.In the presidential election, Buhari who is known to be popular than El-Rufai, could not get up to one million votes, but El-Rufai got over one million. The turnout was low and this was recorded everywhere that in the presidential, the turnout was about 42 percent while it was about 21 percent in governorship. Yet, the results of the governorship far outweigh the result of the presidential. In fact, if we do the simple mathematics of addition, you would realise that governorship election has about 200,000 people more that voted during presidential election, which could never have happened. The whole election was just stage-managed. It was not an election at all.Some political analysts have raised concern as to why some PDP chieftains could not deliver their councils. What could have happened?
Yes, voters have their right to choose who they want. It does not matter where you come from. Most times, prophets are not appreciated in their own homes. What matters is the overall acceptability in your state. So many factors were played up during campaign. Makarfi and Kudan councils were PDP strongholds. So, if the people changed because they have used religion as a weapon to change their mind, which does not mean those that believe in you will not vote for you even if you don’t win. We did not win Kudan no doubt, but the difference was not much which means Ashiru has not been rejected by his people.In Makarfi, the difference was just a few thousands which mean we have a lot of people who love us. But it is practically impossible in Kaduna North, Kaduna South and Igabi for such type of votes to come out for El-Rufai.You talked about campaign of religion.
How has that affected the state in terms of unison especially now?
The resort to use religion to further divide the state was not successful, people don’t use religion here. El-Rufai is the one trying to do that. Right from time, the normal system is when the governor is coming from the North; the deputy will come from the South. He is the one trying to add religious coloration to it. When he was asked he said in the government house, what they do was administration and not religion. But when he saw defeat staring him in the face, he then changed the narrative and brought some Islamic preachers, people like Saidu Gombe, from Gombe to come and preach to us on how to vote. I’m happy the people of Kaduna have replied him. Gombe State has 20 Local Government Areas, and there are Christian areas in these councils. The governors, over time, have been having Christian deputies. So, he should start his preaching from there because charity begins at home instead of coming here to sow seed of hatred.Before now in Kaduna state, all appointments are done in favour of all, even in federal appointments. For example during Makarfi, his first deputy was a Christian from Zango Kataff. But when he died, he brought Patrick Yakowa of blessed memory. There was equity as stipulated in our constitution. Namadi Sambo and Mukhtar Ramalan Yero did same so the state can make progress in unity.But when El-Rufai came, he altered all that. In fact, even the minister, who is now finance minister, was from the northern part of the state. The fact of the matter is that, the state has had governors who have tried to unite the state but El-Rufai is working against the unity of the state. There is nothing that is going to Southern Kaduna except the deputy governor. And even that, has been taken away from them.
What is your message to those who felt their votes have not counted going by your assessment?
We can assure them that they would not be let down. We are going to put all our efforts to ensure that we reclaim the mandate they freely gave to us. We are not going to allow them to run away with people’s mandate. The people have confidence and trust in us and they gave us their mandate, and we will now jettison them. Because if we do, what would be the reason to return to them to ask for another mandate? So, we have to work hard to reclaim that mandate so that we can deliver the promises we made to the electorate. We urge them to be peaceful, patient and law abiding. We believe that the judiciary will rise above any partisanship and deliver justice the way it should be done.