•Says ruling party will defend Tinubu’s mandate against anti-democratic forces
•Jonathan, Mahama, other W’African elders sue for calm
•Urge electoral body to address procedural concerns, comply with electoral law
•Meet with Atiku, Kwankwaso, Obi and Tinubu in peace move
Chuks Okocha, Emmanuel Addeh and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said the call by former President Olusegun Obasanjo for the cancellation of the presidential election results was part of a grand orchestration to truncate the nation’s democracy.
This was just as former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Ex-Ghanaian President John Mahama and other members of the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) Election Mission to Nigeria have appealed for calm in the country.
The WAEF also disclosed that they have since met with Senator Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress; Mr. Peter Obi Of the Labour Party; Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), since last Saturday’s elections, in a peace move.
Obasanjo had in a letter issued Monday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel all elections that did not pass the credibility and transparency test and a new date rescheduled also for electoral wards or polling units where elections were disrupted.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, in Abuja, the Special Adviser, Media, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications, APC PCC, Mr. Dele Alake, said Obasanjo has no moral right to meddle in the election let alone calling for its cancellation.
He said the former president’s call for cancellation of the election was anchored on unsubstantiated claims, rumours and allegations of fraud by opposition parties led by Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party, who having seen that they had lost the election would rather want the country’s democracy to be truncated on the altar of their lies.
He said the APC had always suspected that the Labour Party and PDP were same, only divided by individual inordinate ambition.
Alake stated: “You must also be aware of the gang up by the PDP and Labour Party, whose agents walked out of the National Collation Centre in Abuja on Monday.
“Today, they continued their conspiracy to truncate our 24-year democratic journey by raising unfounded allegations against INEC, casting aspersions on the whole electoral process, forgetting the process had handed them unexpected victories in some states.
“We have always suspected that the Labour Party and PDP are the same, only divided by individual inordinate ambition. We want to remind them that election is a process like pregnancy. Like a pregnancy that has reached full term, it cannot be aborted. We are not in 1993 when June 12 was aborted by similar forces. It is too late to do so.
“The APC-PCC wants to say emphatically that former President Obasanjo has no moral right to meddle in this election let alone calling for its cancellation because he is an interested party having publicly, on January 1 this year, endorsed the candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi,” he said.
Alake noted that the ruling party would not jump the protocol governing the announcement of the election results and allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to perform its constitutional duty.
He added: “We want to tell the gathering anti-democratic forces that we have the strength, the determination and the will to protect and defend this process and the soon-to-be-formally announced mandate freely given to our party and presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima.
“We are very well aware of the plan of the PDP and their Labour Party collaborators to heighten tension in the country and create general state of fear through their sponsored Television and Radio surrogates who continue to push false narratives about the general conduct of the election.
“We are also aware of the coordinated assault aimed at discrediting the whole electoral process and the integrity of INEC by their so-called paid and partisan agents who wear the toga of Election Observers.
“We consider Obasanjo’s failed attempt to scuttle the process through his unsolicited advice to President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel the election as part of the grand orchestration of many evil plots to truncate democracy in Nigeria.”
He said the integrity of the electoral process had been attested to by the international observers such as the Commonwealth, ECOWAS, European Union and African Union observer missions who according to him, had adjudged the election as peaceful, free and fair whilst they identified areas of logistical improvements INEC should take into consideration in future elections.
Alake stressed: “As you are well aware, the election was replete with drama. We saw the APC presidential candidate, party chairman and PCC director-general, losing their home states to Labour Party. Our DG also lost his bid to the Senate.
“We have also seen how Governor Samuel Ortom, a Labour Party backer lost his state of Benue to the APC. He also lost his bid to the Senate to the APC candidate.
“The Benue APC Tsunami was triggered by our popular governorship candidate, Father Hyacinth Alia and the party leader, George Akume. In Taraba, we have also witnessed how Governor Darius Ishaku lost his senatorial election.
“With all these hills and valleys and dramas that characterized the election, how can anyone claim the election was rigged or not transparent.”
Alake said there was a need for politicians to imbibe the democratic spirit, saying elections were meant to test a candidate’s acceptance or popularity.
He said in a national election, politicians must seek acceptance nationally.
According to him, “ethnic champions can’t go far as democracy is a game of numbers. Wherever a candidate has the critical numbers, he wins. Wherever he is deficient, he loses. We have seen all these scenarios at play in the weekend election.”
The APC campaign called on INEC to speed up the announcement of the result to quickly defuse the current atmosphere of anxiety in the country.
It also called on Atiku and Obi to emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan by conceding defeat, saying, “this election has already been won by Bola Tinubu of APC according to the results declared at the collation centres in the state.”
Alake added: “In 2015, President Jonathan did not wait for INEC to finish collation before he called President Muhammadu Buhari and congratulated him in the true spirit of democracy and sportsmanship.
“We urge Atiku Abubakar and Obi to follow the same path of honour, instead of attempting to heat the polity via the reckless statements by surrogates. Let Atiku and Obi call Tinubu now.”
Meanwhile, the West African Elders Forum have appealed for calm in the country. They also called on INEC to address the concerns and procedural questions raised so far by different stakeholders.
The elders also urged INEC to comply with the electoral law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a means of retaining the confidence of Nigerians in the on-going collating of the February 25 presidential election results.
The elders who stated this in a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday, also revealed that they had begun a process of consultations with some of the presidential candidates and other key stakeholders, taking to them messages of peace in order to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order in the country.
In the statement jointly signed by Jonathan, who is the convener of WAEF and Mahama, Head of WAEF’s Mission to Nigeria’s 2023 Elections, the Forum commended Nigerians for the calmness, patience and maturity they continued to exhibit as they wait for the collation process to be concluded.
The Mission further noted that Nigerians demonstrated faith and patriotism in their country, by defying the challenges of delay in arrival of electoral materials, voter suppression and incidents of violence to perform their civic duties of voting on election day.
The Mission noted how Nigerians across the country demonstrated faith and patriotism in their country, defying many challenges to perform their civic duties.
They stated: “While the elections were peaceful in a number of places, challenges of delay in arrival of electoral materials, voter suppression, ballot box vandalisation and incidents of violence in some states, created anxiety among citizens who were passionate to cast their ballots.
“We commend Nigerians for the calmness, patience and maturity they have continued to exhibit as they wait for the collation process to be concluded.
“The Mission notes that some political parties and concerned citizens have raised procedural questions and allegations of infractions of the electoral law in the process of collation of results. We call on all aggrieved parties to document and present their claims to INEC, in accordance with the Electoral Act 2022.
“The Mission notes the imperative of retaining the confidence of Nigerians in the ongoing electoral process and, therefore, urges the INEC to thoroughly investigate those concerns and comply with the electoral law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the process of collating the election results.”
They also reiterate that Nigeria remains a major stakeholder in the sustainability of democracy in West Africa and the responsibility of maintaining the nation’s thriving democracy and the general peace of our sub-region, “rest on all our shoulders, especially on the integrity of INEC and other election management bodies in West Africa, during elections.”
They added: “We therefore urge INEC to live up to its responsibility of delivering free, fair and credible elections, in accordance with the nation’s laws. WAEF urges political parties, candidates and their supporters to remain calm and peaceful while awaiting the final outcome of the electoral process.
“As former leaders who are committed to peace and stability in our sub-region, we have begun a round of consultations with some of the presidential candidates and other key stakeholders, taking to them our message of hope, understanding and peace.
“So far, WAEF have held meetings with some of the presidential candidates including the Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso and the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in Abuja.
“This afternoon we also held consultations with the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate Senator Bola Tinubu and the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, in an expanded meeting that included the Heads of Missions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma and His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, respectively, as well as the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Dr. Omar Alieu Touray.
“We have continued, in all of these meetings, to urge the candidates and their supporters to maintain peace and use all available legitimate means to sort out their concerns and grievances. We hope to sustain this Mission until the electoral processes are successfully concluded.
“We, therefore, urge everyone to be circumspect in their actions and responsibilities, during this moment in order not to jeopardise the collective stability and peace of the nation.”