*Labour Party supporters shock Lagosians with impressive early results
*Polls witness good turnout, late arrival of materials
*Buhari votes for Tinubu, displays his ballot paper
As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) collates the final results of yesterday’s presidential and National Assembly elections, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu; the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and their counterparts in the Labour Party (LP) and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, respectively, have expressed confidence that they would emerge victorious in the presidential poll.
Nigerians went to the polls yesterday to elect a new president and federal lawmakers.
The elections saw a good voter turnout, late arrival of materials, and alleged disenfranchisement of voters by thugs in several polling units, particularly in Lagos State
President Muhammadu Buhari voted in his country home of Daura, Katsina State, and displayed his ballot paper with a thumbprint for the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, saying that after campaigning for the political leader in many parts of the country, he has reaffirmed his preferred successor.
The Labour Party has, however, raised the alarm over reports of alleged irregularities and widespread thuggery in some key states across the country and threatened that it might not accept the outcome of the elections if the INEC failed to address some of the issues to give room for free and fair elections.
This is coming as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Yiaga Africa have alleged that violence marred yesterday’s polls in several polling units across the country.
President Buhari, who voted alongside his wife, Mrs Aisha Buhari, and other family members, at Ward A, Sarkin Yara Polling Unit, 003, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, promised that he had always supported the candidature of Tinubu and that the display of his ballot paper to the media and the public further shows his commitment to the party and its presidential candidate.
“I am very impressed because I have seen how the people turned up. I am very impressed and very happy. Well, the candidate I voted for I have already mentioned in many states in Nasarawa, Katsina, and Sokoto.
“All over the place, I mentioned my favourite candidate, Asiwaju Tinubu, and I believe my constituency will elect him 100 per cent,” Buhari explained.
President Buhari advised Nigerians to ensure their voting rights were always respected.
“Nigerians should make sure that they are respected; that means that the candidate they want to vote for, they are allowed to vote for him,” he added.
President Buhari expressed concern and pity that only one female emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Aisha Ahmed Binani, urging support for the candidate.
“It is a pity there is only one female candidate from Adamawa State, so the electorate should kindly follow our party,” Buhari said.
Asked how he felt it was the first time since 2003 that he was not on the ballot paper, the president said: “It is very exciting. I look at those competing, and some are so agitated that they didn’t know that I tried three times and ended up in the Supreme Court three times.
“The fourth time I said ‘God dey,’ and God sent technology, Permanent Voters Card, so no fraudulent person can claim anything,’’ he stated.
According to the president, “APC will win, from Daura to Lagos.’’
The president’s family members and staff also voted at the polling unit.
Atiku, Tinubu, Obi, Kwankwaso, Optimistic of Victory
Meanwhile, the four leading presidential candidates – Atiku, Tinubu, Obi, and Kwankwaso have expressed confidence that they would emerge victorious at yesterday’s polls.
Atiku, who voted in his Ajiya ward in Yola North Local Government Area (LGA) of Adamawa State, commended the orderly conduct of the exercise.
He also commended the INEC and the security agencies.
On his part, Tinubu, who voted alongside his wife, Remi, and other party chieftains, at his polling unit at Alausa, Ikeja, expressed optimism that he would win the poll.
Addressing reporters, he said “democracy is here to stay” in Nigeria and that he is “too confident of victory.”
He said the voting process is “going smoothly” and “going well.”
The APC candidate said on the turnout of voters: “This is expected, we need a good turnout, and that is the adoption, and the commitment to democracy and the democratic process must take place.”
Asked how certain of victory he was, Tinubu said: “I’m too certain.”
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Obi, also voted at his Amatutu ward two, polling unit 019, Agulu community in Anaocha LGA of Anambra State.
He told journalists that he was satisfied with the conduct of the INEC so far in the election and hoped that the same was happening in other places across the country.
“This election is very important to Nigeria, and I am confident about victory.
“I have the mental capacity, energy and drive to lead this country. We need to get things right in Nigeria,” the LP presidential candidate said.
Obi and his wife Margaret cast their vote around 11:45 am.
Addressing reporters after he voted, Obi said the process was “seamless,” adding that he was confident of victory.
Meanwhile, Kwankwaso has also declared that he was confident of victory at yesterday’s poll.
He said the huge turnout of his home supporters without much presence of security at his Tandu 1 Polling Unit was an indication that Kano people are lovers of peace.
He cast his vote at a polling unit in the Kwankwaso town of the Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State.
Labour Raises the Alarm over Widespread Thuggery
Meanwhile, the LP yesterday raised the alarm over reports of alleged irregularities and widespread thuggery in key states nationwide. It threatened that it might not accept the outcome of the elections.
Director General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Akin Osuntokun, stated this at a press briefing in Abuja, saying that there were disturbing reports of organised violence, voting, election irregularities, and malpractices well as systemic disenfranchisement of voters.
He said these developments were obviously “causing disruptions and truncations, and intensely threatening the credibility of this much-awaited elections.
Osuntokun lamented that the party was yet to understand why “the omission of Labour Party logos from the ballot papers and by implication, the omission of validly registered Labour Party candidates, in many states, but especially in Lagos, Ondo, Enugu, Bayelsa, among other locations across the country.
He said: “Verified reports of very serious and widespread violence from organised thuggery and intimidation, at many locations across the country, particularly in Lagos and Rivers State, unleashed on polling stations across the country, including the snatching of BVAS machines, snatching of ballot boxes, destruction of voting materials, and the infliction of serious injuries, on voters and officials.
“We have various video reports available, and reported in the media, where thugs of opponents’ political parties have directly entered the polling unit and threatened voters, on the basis of ethnicity and political affiliation, to comply with their choice, or leave the polling station or otherwise be harmed,” he explained.
He also cited the non-arrival of election materials and officials, late arrival of election materials, and incomplete supply of election materials, in locations around the country, especially in Labour Party strongholds.
He said the acceptability of the outcome of polls would depend on how INEC addressed the issues raised.
Obi Raises the Alarm over INEC’s Alleged Refusal to Upload Results
Also, the Obi-Datti Media Office has raised the alarm over what it alleged is an underhand move to manipulate the Presidential Election results across the country following the refusal of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission to upload much of the presidential election results to the INEC server at the polling stations.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Head, Obi-Datti Media Office, Diran Onifade, in Abuja, yesterday.
He said: “It is curious, unacceptable, and smacks of fraud that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) device could nobly transmit the Senate and House of Representatives results, but cannot do that of the Presidential election.
“The Obi-Datti Media Office finds it curious that the BVAS would choose which results to upload and which not to upload. Certainly, this smacks of a serious fraud aimed to torpedo the wishes of the Nigerian electorate who have already decided that things can no longer continue to go wrong in Nigeria, using the ballot box to do so.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), should be held responsible for this flagrant anomaly that defies logic, as the Obi-Datti Media Office finds what is developing as a recipe to manipulate the process and truncate the electoral wishes of the Nigerian masses.
“We also find unbecoming, the reported interference of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. We call on all relevant bodies to do the needful and prevent the Governor from meddling in the electoral process.
“We wish to state categorically that the Obi-Datti Media Office will not accept any presidential election result that is not in tandem with the results issued at the polling units, copies of which we already have.
NLC, Yiaga Africa Allege Violence, Disenfranchisement of Voters
Meanwhile, the NLC and Yiaga Africa have alleged that violence marred yesterday’s elections in several polling units nationwide.
On its part, NLC said it would hold the INEC directly responsible for all the anomalies associated with the elections, insisting that all eligible voters must be allowed to exercise their democratic rights to vote for the candidates of their choice.
“Anything short of this will be unacceptable to Nigerian workers,” it said.
A statement issued by NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said: “The NLC had hoped that the ills of electioneering in Nigeria would have been largely dealt with and corrected in this year’s election so that we can have a more credible and valid election.
“The report reaching us thus far from around the country is contrary to the high hopes we have earlier had for today’s exercise.”
On its part, Yiaga Africa said the elections were marred by the late arrival of INEC officials in 1 507 polling centres monitored by its 3,836 observers.