What happened in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) during the recent Presidential and Parliamentary elections, where President Muhammadu Buhari emerged victorious, despite losing in the FCT to his closest rival Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has clearly demonstrated that this government and indeed the FCT Administration are firm believers that the will of the people is sacrosanct and must never be subverted for any reason.
As it happened, the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar scored the most votes of 259,997 in the contest in the FCT, against the 152,224 votes that was scored by President Buhari. The Senatorial candidate of the PDP, Phillip Aduda, also defeated Zaphaniah Jisalo of the APC with wide margin.
While several explanations have been made for this outcome, including the notion that the FCT is inhabited mainly by people from the geographical regions that have strong affiliations with the PDP, some pundits and political analysts have however gone to the extreme by blaming the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello for this outcome. Their claim is that the Minister’s unwillingness to dip into the public coffers to make money available for politicking may have dampened the morale of voters in the FCT.
But a clear look at this position however shows that those making these statements may still be clung to the dark ages of Nigeria’s electioneering history where elections are characterized mainly by financial inducements of voters and electoral umpires, amongst others. This is because anyone who keenly observed what happened during the recently concluded elections will see clearly that voters gave their support to whomsoever they chose, irrespective of money factors. In the North where Muhammadu Buhari is a phenomenon, the support for him was overwhelming. The PDP candidate Atiku also received much support from the South which has always been a PDP stronghold. So, to lay the blame for the pattern of voting in the FCT on the FCT Minister is a tad misleading.
Clearly, what happened in the FCT is that the will of the majority prevailed in a peaceful atmosphere as the minister promised before the elections. At no point before or during the elections did the FCT minister promise that he would deliver the FCT to the president. The minister merely gave reasons why President Buhari should be reelected for a second term to continue his people-oriented policies. He also guaranteed that the elections would be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere and obviously he delivered on this. This is unlike what happened in some parts of the country like Rivers and Lagos States where certain persons tried to play God, which resulted in the unfortunate loss of lives and properties.
Unlike what happened in these states, the FCT minister moved before hand to ensure that there were no security lapses by holding various meetings with security agencies in the FCT to iron out issues of logistics. The FCT Administration also held meetings with various stakeholders in the FCT like the politicians, media organizations, election observer groups, traditional rulers and the original inhabitants to ensure that the election was done in a peaceful atmosphere. The minister’s message at all these meetings was very loud and clear: peaceful, free and fair elections in the FCT.
So whoever that is saying a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should dip into the public coffers to make money available for electioneering, against the provision of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, should be seen as an enemy of the state and the people. Malam Bello over the last three and half years that he has been in charge of the FCT has demonstrated that he is a respecter for the rule of law which is exemplified by the manner that he has ran the affairs of the FCT Administration, devoid of rancor and scandals. Even this much has been attested to by many notable persons, including members of the parliament and the international community.
At any rate, the FCT is not the only supposed stronghold of the APC that did not live up to expectations during the presidential and parliamentary elections. Edo State which is the home state of the APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, also failed to deliver majority of the votes to the president, despite that the governor is also of the APC. All of these demonstrate that the present government is committed to practicing democracy based on the will of the people, even if it is not in their favour.
––Danladi Akilu, Durumi II, Gudu District, Abuja