By Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday expressed divergent views on their performances in Saturday’s by-elections in the 15 federal and state legislative seats across 11 states to fill vacancies created by the death of former occupants.
The by-elections involved nine state Houses of Assembly and six senatorial seats, with the APC winning three senatorial seats in Imo, Plateau and Lagos as well as seven House of Assembly seats in Lagos, Kogi, Borno, Katsina and Bauchi States.
On the other hand, PDP retained the three senatorial seats up for grabs in Bayelsa and Cross River as well as winning the House of Assembly seat in contention in Enugu State.
The results of the House of Assembly by-election in Zamfara State were declared inconclusive and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed tomorrow to conclude the by-election.
However, while the APC has described its performance as an indication of the acceptance of the ruling party and President Muhammadu Buhari by Nigerians, the PDP cautioned the president against making what it called “false claim” of sweeping the polls.
The APC described the victories recorded by the party as an indication of the acceptance of the ruling party and Buhari by Nigerians.
The party’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, in a statement yesterday, said the Buhari-led APC administration was further buoyed by this national support to improve the lives of Nigerians, genuinely address national challenges and to better the country.
It stated: “From Imo, Bauchi, Lagos, Plateau and other states where Saturday’s concurrent legislative by-elections were conducted across the country, the massive electoral victories recorded by the APC are a solid display and pointer that the APC remains the only political party with a true national appeal and acceptance by Nigerians, across geo-political zones and sundry groupings.
“As a governing party, the APC does not take the massive national support for granted. This is indeed a true demonstration that President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC government he leads remains massively popular with Nigerians, despite the warped narrative some opposition partisans try to sell.”
According to it, the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee is working to reposition the party by accommodating all interests and ensuring peace, unity, fairness, equity, justice, inclusion and internal democracy in the party.
It added that the efforts are yielding fruits as the APC has been returned to winning ways and re-emerging as a united, progressive and focused political unit.
The party, however, expressed sadness and regrets over the casualties resulting from the boat mishap involving some policemen on election duty in Bayelsa State as well as some election irregularities in some states during the by-elections.
APC noted that although the by-elections were largely peaceful and hitch-free, it called for continued support for INEC and other bodies in ensuring the credibility and efficiency of the electoral processes.
However, while reacting to claims by the presidency on Sunday, that the APC reaffirmed yesterday, that the ruling party swept the polls, the PDP described it as another desperate measure to divert public attention from the Buhari administration’s failures.
The PDP also mocked Buhari for assuming the role of an emergency spokesman of the APC in a bid to launder the image of the party.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said Buhari has by this confirmed that he has become a lame duck president, having abdicated his presidential responsibilities of securing the nation and managing the economy to issuing press statements for APC and struggling for media space, as spokesperson and image launderer of the party.
It said: “Perhaps Mr. President’s handlers ought to have informed him that out of the six senatorial by-elections, the PDP freely swept three in free, fair and credible contests, while the APC only muscled the other three in polls that were marred by manifest irregularities and rigging.
“Moreover, the PDP is in a clear lead in Zamfara where the INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Ibrahim Magatawa, openly betrayed the plot between INEC and APC to allocate votes for the APC and rig the Bakura State Constituency by-election.
“Such resort to rigging by the APC only confirmed its heightened unpopularity given the failures of its administrations, both at federal and state levels, including wrecking our economy and pampering terrorists, bandits and kidnappers who are ravaging our communities and murdering our compatriots in the most vicious manner.
“It is indeed appalling that at a time Nigerians expect Mr. President to frontally tackle the escalated insecurity under his incompetent watch, particularly in dealing with the recent massacre in Borno State, he is more interested in praise-singing of a party that has been rejected by Nigerians.”
The main opposition party said such dereliction of duty is a direct spat on the victims of the killings in the country and an insult on Nigerians.
Meanwhile, Mr. Moses Cleopas, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Bayelsa Central Senatorial District by-election, has been declared the winner by INEC.
The INEC’s Returning Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Akpan, announced that Cleopas polled 110,019 votes to defeat his closest rival for the crucial senatorial seat, Mr. Abel Efemowei of the APC, who scored 18,947 votes.