Willy Eya And Tunde Thomas
After last Saturday’s postponement of the presidential and national assembly elections, all is now set for the exercise. According to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, only an act of God can stop today’s election. So, following the assurance from the electoral umpire, the nation has once more, relapsed into another tension as about 73 million Nigerians file out to choose between President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the list released by INEC, a total of 73 presidential candidates are eligible to participate in the poll, which, many consider a two-horse race between President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar. Predictably, the race will be a tight one considering the background of the two major candidates in relation to the voting culture of the electorate in the country. Nevertheless, the two major parties are expressing hope that their candidates would come tops at the end of today’s ballot. Same way, prominent Nigerians including lawyers, party leaders and socio-cultural groups have bared their minds on their expectations, and preparations for the poll. Saturday Sun, captures their opinions.
APC will still win by landslide – Festus Keyamo, Director of Media, Buhari Campaign Organisation
According to the spokesman of APC presidential campaign council, “in spite of the postponement, we are still sure of victory. Buhari and APC will win by landslide. This election will be an election of consolidation for Buhari and APC. It is an election for Buhari, and APC to consolidate on their present achievements in terms of delivery of democracy dividends to Nigerians. Nigerians have made up their mind to vote for Buhari, and APC. Nigerians believe in Buhari; they believe in a winning team. As far as we are concerned, there is no shaking for us in APC. President Buhari will coast home to a landslide victory. I’m appealing to APC supporters to go out in their millions to vote for Buhari and APC.
Our agents and party’s monitoring teams are on the ground all over the country to ensure that everything goes in order. Having worked in the last three years to deliver dividends of democracy to Nigerians and with Nigerians accepting the new reforms being put in place to turn the fortunes of Nigeria round, our expectation in this election is victory. Buhari and APC will win.
“They are the choice of Nigerians. Nigerians love Buhari and APC and today they are going to cast their votes to re-elect Buhari and APC. Buhari is poised to take Nigeria to the next level. We are expecting Nigerians to turn out in large numbers, especially APC supporters. Buhari has done a lot, and he deserves to be given a second term to enable him and APC consolidate on the current achievements.”
Atiku’s victory assured -Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP National Publicity Secretary
The PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan will however not buy into Keyamo’s postulation. In his words, “Today’s victory is assured for the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. PDP is fully on the ground all over the country and the message we are getting is that Nigerians are yearning for a change. Atiku Abubakar and PDP symbolize that change Nigerians are yearning for.
Our candidates have done their homework and the party is set for today. We are very optimistic of victory and our presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is coasting home to victory. Nigerians are tired of APC and they are going to use their votes today to effect change. Victory is inevitable for PDP. We have worked for it and we deserve it. We’ve told our supporters that they should be orderly, and law abiding. We also told them to be vigilant to ensure that our votes really count.
“Although we were disappointed by the postponement of last week by INEC but we have put that ugly incident behind us. Our focus now is on this Saturday’s elections; we’ve worked hard and we are expecting victory. Like I said last week, for us in PDP, this election is not a do-or-die affair. In 2015, PDP lost to APC and voluntarily we handed over to APC. We didn’t create any crisis, and life continues. Our expectation is that APC will also exhibit the same behavior when the table is turned against the party today. The main word or phrase on the lips of millions of Nigerians as they go to the polls today is Atikulation. Atiku is the man of the moment, and we have no doubt that the pendulum of victory will swing in his favor.”
No more cock and bull story –Prof. Akin Oyebode
For renowned professor of law, Akin Oyebode, he can’t stand another excuse from INEC. According to him, “I believe INEC must have put its house in order for this Saturday’s presidential elections and other subsequent ones coming up. INEC must get its act right. The postponement of elections by INEC last week was a big embarrassment to this nation. It is a big stain on the nation’s democracy. INEC should realise this. Nigerians are not ready to take any cock and bull story from INEC again. Even though in this country we always expect the unexpected, but enough is enough, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and his lieutenants should tell Nigerians if they are incapable of doing the job. I have been to other countries where elections are held; even countries that are bigger, and some that are not as big as Nigeria, we don’t see this kind of incompetence that has been displayed by INEC through the postponement. Conducting an election is not a rocket science, so I don’t know why INEC is not living up to the task. We have been holding elections in Nigeria since 1922, so INEC should buckle up.
“Although the INEC Chairman has expressed his regrets but this Saturday elections will provide an opportunity to INEC to repair the damage that has already been done to its image as a result of the postponement of the elections. I want to believe that this Saturday’s elections will be hitch-free because INEC should have learnt its lessons.”
Nigeria can’t afford another postponement -Ubani, ex-Deputy President, NBA
Former deputy president of NBA, Tony Ubani is hopeful that the nation won’t have to go through another hitch. “Our prayer is that today’s election and the following ones will be hitch-free. My sincere hope is that there will be no postponement and no excuses again by INEC, otherwise some people may sue the electoral body or even the whole democracy may be threatened. Any postponement again will have far reaching effects. The postponement last week cost the nation a lot in terms of material losses, and logistics. INEC should not toy with the idea of another postponement again. In the first place, last week postponement by INEC was illegal. That postponement was in violation of the Electoral Act. What the Electoral Act stipulates is that election can only be postponed as a result of security concerns, and not as a result of logistic reason.
As election is taking place today, my appeal to INEC is that it should play the role of a neutral umpire. The elections should be seen by all and sundry to be free and fair; Nigerians should also troop out to exercise their franchise. There should be no violence. Political parties and their candidates and supporters must also exercise decorum. Politics should be seen as a game, so our politicians should display spirit of sportsmanship. Elections should not be seen as a do- or-die affair”, he counseled.
The world watching Nigeria –Prof. Sonaiya, ex-presidential candidate, Kowa Party
For Prof. Remi Sonaiya, a presidential candidate of Kowa party at the 2015 general elections, “This Saturday should be seen as another milestone in the history of our democracy. INEC should ensure that everything is done to guarantee hitch-free elections. Although many Nigerians were dejected by the postponement of last week but we should put that behind us and forge ahead. A lot of people globally are looking up to INEC to make a success of this exercise, so the electoral body should live up to expectations. The world is now a global village; whatever we are doing, others are watching. More so, the international observers are also here, so let’s all do the needful to make sure that everything is okay.
“For us in KOWA party, we are ready for the elections. We are fully prepared. Our network across the country is fully activated. We are expecting victory for all our candidates. I’m appealing to Nigerians to come out in their large number to vote. They should not feel dejected by the postponement of last week.”
INEC should ensure success of election –Dr. Kunle Olajide, Sec. Gen., Yoruba Council of Elders
According to the Secretary General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide, “INEC should ensure that all logistics are put in place across the country to make the elections a success. INEC should also avoid any situation that could warrant another postponement because that will erode public confidence in INEC.
At 58, Nigerians should not be having anxious over elections. It’s an exercise, which by now, we should be able to conduct without any tension. INEC should be impartial. The elections should be free and fair. The whole world is watching us, INEC should not fail the nation.”