The National Collation Officer of Saturday’s Presidential election and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, has inaugurated the National Collation Centre at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, but swiftly adjourned proceedings to Monday 11:00 a.m. when State Collation Officers for Presidential Election and State Returning Officers will begin to come in with results.
Meantime, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has berated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for a press statement it issued Sunday claiming that its candidate had won the presidential election.
APC said the statement “is an unwarranted strike against democracy and the people of Nigeria.”
In its statement by spokesman, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu, the APC adds: “The PDP in that press statement, recklessly calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to arbitrarily name its candidate, Alh. Atiku Abubakar the winner of the presidential election.
“This call is shameful and alarming. Unwilling to wait for INEC the constituted legal authority to complete its task, the PDP seeks a short cut by false and premature claims of victory. This cannot stand.”
Earlier on Sunday, the PDP in a statement by Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the National Publicity Secretary and Director, Media & Publicity PDP Presidential Campaign Organization charged the INEC to announce results and declare the Atiku Abubakar, the winner of the February 23 Presidential election
PDP says its position is predicated on clear and verifiable results showing that Atiku is in clear lead both in spread and total number of votes cast.
The PDP adds: “Intelligence available to us is that INEC is delaying the announcement of results following directives by the Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC), which are bent on altering the figures from the polling centers and allocate fictitious figures for President Muhammadu Buhari, particularly in northern states.
“Curiously, INEC server is now shut down, results are no more being transmitted and the reason is to enable the APC to inflate figures from six designated states.
“We call on international observers and election monitors to insist on a transparent process of transmission of results and the monitoring thereof.
“We already have reports of how APC governors in the northern states have been making desperate effort to tamper with the results of the elections in their respective states with the view to award conjured votes to President Buhari.”
PDP cites the example of Kogi state, where it says a top government functionart has been making frantic moves to change results to suit APC’s intent and purposes as against the wishes of the people, expressly delivered at the polls.
It states further that Nigerians know how a Minister used the military to hold an INEC official in River state, Mrs. Mary Efeturi, hostage and insisted that she would not be released until she altered the results in favour of a candidate.
“The PDP calls on INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to note that in this age of Information Communication Technology, Nigerians already have the results as delivered at the polling centers and any attempt to alter any figure will be faced with vehement resistance.
“In delaying the announcement of the results, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is allowing the APC to turn him into a villain and directly pitching him against the people. He should therefore extricate himself from the rejected APC and be on the side of the people, by immediately announcing the results as already delivered at the polling units and declare, the people’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the winner.
“Anything short of this is not acceptable to Nigerians, who had already expressed their wishes and aspiration at the polls.”
But the APC spokesman faults the attitude of the PDP. It said, “Our nation is trying to perfect its democracy, not turn it into a mockery. Sadly, this objective is lost to the PDP. The PDP’s guiding principle is distilled to the following; because they want something, then they should get it. What they use to guide themselves actually blinds them instead.
“Because they want the presidency so badly that they have engaged in all manner of misconduct and spared little cost to achieve their aim, they now believe that they are entitled to claim victory notwithstanding the vote and will of the people. But this is not the way of democracy. Democracy means the people choose for themselves not that the PDP chooses for them.
“That may have been the way in the past when they engineered and kidnapped elections to achieve their desired end notwithstanding the true will of the people. Thankfully, those days are gone and gone forever.
“These elections are supposed to be democratic exercises not a platform for the PDP to impose their selfish designs on a hopeful nation. The PDP should honour and follow the sovereign will and sober dignity of the Nigerian people.
“The people patiently waited the additional week for Election Day to come. The vast majority of people again exercised patience as they peacefully voted on Election Day. Unfortunately, isolated incidents of violence took place. We are deeply saddened by the violence and disruption that did occur. Nigerians died yesterday and that should never have happened and should never happen again during an election of any kind in our land. Their deaths are needless tragedies that mar what was otherwise a celebration of our maturing democracy.
“Instead of the discordant and provocative statement it released, the PDP should be appealing for peace and for INEC to diligently and thoroughly perform the vital task assigned it. Curiously, the majority of violent incidents and reports of electoral malpractice emanate from states which the PDP controls. It appears the PDP just cannot break from their old ways.
“The PDP press statement is but a continuation of the sordid games that party has mastered. While all evidence points to the misconduct of their people, they make outlandish and false claims against the APC. This is but the typical modus operandi of a master swindler. They seek to distract the public eye from their own wrongs, by falsely accusing the APC of the very things they had conspired to set in motion months before this election even took place. From trying to falsify results on the ground to attempts at hacking the INEC software, they are willing to say and do anything to obtain victory, no matter how tainted by the wrongs they commit.
“For our part, the APC has governed and campaigned as we believed was right. Because of this, we are content to await the verdict of the people. We also believe that only INEC has the authority to announce election results. What the PDP is trying to do, by claiming without any factual basis that Atiku has won, is usurp INEC’s constitutional authority. Moreover, PDP’s words are rash eruptions that may incite needless violence and unrest.
“Thus, we ask the PDP to live up to the status it claims for itself as a large political party. The PDP should behave more responsibly instead of acting the role of spoiled children who threaten to upset the dinner table if not fed their preferred meal.”
“The APC asks and encourages INEC to do its job as mandated by law and by good conscience and not by the screams of those who do not fully believe in these ideals. We hope INEC can begin to release results soon and do so in a way that protects and honours the vote of every Nigerian who cast a ballot.
“We also ask our members and supporters to exercise patience and conduct themselves peacefully. Democracy is a contest of issues and visions. Not one of muscle and fighting. Let there be no more violence among us. Remember that we are all Nigerians and belong to the same national family despite our political differences.
“On this day, may democracy and sovereign will of the electorate reign. There is no worthy substitute for this despite the malign protestations of the PDP.
“If Nigeria is to stand for something, let it be democracy and let it be today so that we assure for ourselves fruits of a brighter future.”