from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja / OKORO CHINEDU in Lagos
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – AFTER the major contestants all claimed victory, the electoral commission apparently violating the constitution on results announcement as well as a walkout by opposition parties at the collation centre and abuse of journalists, Nigeria is on a knife-edge after elections held this past weekend.
The West African country’s general polls had been projected to be the tightest since the advent of civilian rule in 1999, and true to projections, the dramatic scenes on Monday have left the nation on a precipice.
Fresh allegations of vote rigging and emerging reports of ethnic violence in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city, commercial nerve centre and the former capital city are adding to the political turbulence.
The governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have claimed victory, sparking a war of words among the parties that have fielded former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, and ex- state Deputy President, Atiku Abubakar, as their candidates to succeed the exiting Muhammadu Buhari.
The third-force, Labour Party, has also declared its candidate, Peter Obi, as the winner.
On Monday, the PDP, which lost power to APC in 2015, claimed victory.
“It is very clear from the votes as cast at the polling units across the country, that the presidential candidate of the PDP substantially defeated the presidential candidate of the APC, in line with the expressed aspiration and will of Nigerians,” Debo Olugunagba, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, stated.
However, the main opposition said it was “alarming” that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was aiding and abetting the rigging and manipulation of the election results in favour of the APC, arguing that the results announcement was in violation of the Electoral Act of 2022, which stipulates that results must be transmitted directly from the polling unit to the INEC server or website.
As such, the party argues that any result announced by INEC is improper, illegal and of no consequence hence procedurally, INEC cannot continue to announce results.
On Sunday, INEC reported the collapse of its result viewing portal, which has sparked a backlog in the deliverance of the presidential poll outcome.
Some results have been announced at the collation centre in the capital Abuja instead.
There, collation agents of the PDP and the Labour Party on Monday staged a walkout on the basis that the results were not uploaded on the electoral commission’s Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
This incurred the wrath of APC, which similarly claimed victory.
“We know we are going to win this election because we have done our research,” claimed one of the APC publicists, Femi Fani-Kayode.
“We don’t make noise. We want everyone to be cool, to be calm as we coast to that victory,” Fani-Kayode, formerly of PDP, added.
He alleged plots by the opposition parties to provoke the governing party and make the country ungovernable.
“The minute that result is announced, we will not be intimidated. We will defend our vote. We will protect this mandate,” Fani-Kayode said.
Festus Keyamo, official spokesperson of the APC Presidential campaign, described the walkout from the collation centre as “nonsense.”
He accused the grieving parties of walking out “just to grandstand and cover their shame at their poor showing.”
“(They are) … not man enough to face the process,” Keyamo charged.
Among the major results announced so far, the highlight was the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, winning in Lagos.
Obi polled 582 454 votes. Tinubu secured 572 606 votes while Abubakar managed 75 750.
It was forecast Lagos was a stronghold of Tinubu’s, being a former governor there.
Obi’s campaign resonated with the youth, who are a majority in this country of an estimated 219 million, the biggest in the continent by population.
Youths, 49 million of them registered to vote, constitute over half of the 93,5 million Nigerians registered to vote.
It was forecast Lagos was a stronghold of Tinubu’s, being a former governor there. Obi also secured wins in Anambra, where he was formerly governor, Enugu as well as Nasarawa at the time of publication.
The results indicated Abubakar winning in the Adamawa, Gombe, Katsina, Osun and Yobe states. Tinubu had won Ekiti, Jigawa, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo and Oyo states.
Nigeria has 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory.
Reports emerged of ethnic violence in Lagos following the announcement.
Tinubu condemned the reported skirmishes.
“The fact that the APC narrowly lost Lagos State to another party should not be the reason for violence. As a democrat, you win some, you lose some,” he said.
Seemingly buoyed by its performance in Lagos and other states, the Labour Party has jumped on the bandwagon and demanded that former PDP governor Obi be declared the winner.
“The results being announced does not reflect and correspond with the results of the votes casted by Nigerians at their various polling units,” Prince Kennedy Ahanotu, Acting National Youth Leader, stated.
The party has also demanded the halting of results announcements pending their availability on the IReV platform.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the first president when Nigeria attained civilian rule, also endorsed Obi for this election.
Obasanjo has demanded the cancellation of elections in areas where voting experienced glitches, especially with the failing, newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines.
He claimed some INEC officials had been allegedly compromised following the manual transmission of results which he alleged had been manipulated.
“At this stage, we do not need wittingly or unwittingly to set this country on fire with the greed, irresponsibility and unpatriotic act of those who allegedly gave money to INEC officials for perversion and those who collected the blood money,” the former head of state said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that at least 14 journalists and media workers were detained, harassed or attacked during elections.
– CAJ News