Presidential/ NASS Polls: We’re disappointed, Afenifere, PANDEF, others fume

Tunde Thomas

Frontline socio-political groups across the country have expressed disappointment on the outcome of last weekend presidential election. In separate interviews with leaders of the groups, they described the poll as a sham.

They had openly showed their bias against the winner of the election, President Muhammadu Buhari when few days to the poll, precisely February 3, they endorsed the candidacy of his rival, Atiku Abubakar.

In its first reaction to the defeat of Atiku despite their backing, the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, PANDEF described the outcome of the election as a total disgrace to democracy. According to the Chairman of the Forum, Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd), “For PANDEF, the presidential election conducted by the INEC last Saturday where President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner was nothing but a sham. It’s a total disgrace. It is not an election but a caricature. We are disappointed with INEC. Anybody who praised INEC for that sham is a mediocre, and not only that, such a fellow is also a failure. The presidential election conducted by the INEC is a failure. It is a mockery of  democracy.”

While condemning the violence and killings in parts of the country during the election, the Niger Delta leader said both INEC and security agencies could have done better in their handling of the process. “Even look at the high number of deaths that occurred as a result of the election; over 40 Nigerians were reported dead. INEC could have done better. It is unfortunate that INEC behaved as if it was working for the ruling party, APC. Look at the embarrassing way INEC was rolling out figures in the North for APC even in  states where insurgency is  affecting people’s lives and where people can’t move freely INEC  declared millions for APC. Does INEC think Nigerians are fools? Even the election had  been condemned by international observers. It is a shame that while INEC was declaring millions for APC in the North, voters in the South were being disenfranchised. In Rivers state alone, over 1 million voters were disenfranchised by INEC using the card reader malfunctioning as an excuse.  Voters were also disenfranchised in Lagos. Whereas in the North, INEC dumped the use of card reader in many places and allowed people to vote manually. It is obvious from this election that INEC, and APC didn’t want the will of the  people to prevail. But what they don’t know is that the voice of the people is the voice of God, and they can’t fight God”, he alleged.

The PANDEF leader accused the electoral umpire of working hand in hand with the ruling party and security agencies to twist the actual result of the poll. His words, “INEC didn’t release the real result of the election which reflect the true will of Nigerians, but INEC officials just wrote figures that pleased them especially in the North. It is sad that security officials including the military, police, and INEC officials became agents of APC during the election. This is a big shame, and those behind this national disgrace should cover their faces in shame. With this election, APC is turning Nigeria into a banana republic. It was the cabal operating in Aso Rock that conducted last Saturday presidential election, and not the INEC. INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu owes Nigerians an apology over this sham.

“It is also very sad that excessive use of force was unleashed on Nigerians during the election. Things were also made worse by President Muhammadu Buhari’s shoot at sight order.”

He urged President Buhari to be magnanimous in victory and treat all Nigerians as equal. According to him, “My advice to Buhari is that he should remember that he is supposed to play the role of father to all Nigerians. He is not expected to be parochial but his action and utterances show that he is only for nobody else but APC. Buhari should try to show the attributes of a statesman.”

On how PANDEF will relate with President Buhari for another four years, Nkanga said “we have nothing personal against him. What PANDEF has always been asking for is equity and justice for all Nigerians. We will also continue to support the calls for restructuring of Nigeria even though Buhari’s body language clearly shows that he is not keen about it. But the bitter truth is this whether Buhari likes it or not there is no alternative to restructuring if we want a country where justice and equity prevails. It is most unfortunate that Buhari has not deemed it fit to fulfill or implement not even one out of the 16 point agenda presented to him by PANDEF on behalf of the people of Niger-Delta since over two years ago.”

For pan-Yoruba group, “The election was a coup d’état against Nigerians. The result of the presidential election declared by INEC is like passing death sentence on Nigerians. That was not an election, it was conspiracy against Nigerians. It was a conspiracy between INEC, security agencies, and APC to foist Buhari on Nigerians. It is a sad day in the annals of Nigeria’s democracy. Those who hatched this evil plot should cover their faces in shame. But one thing these conspirators or saboteurs of Nigeria’s democracy should realize is that nothing good will come out of their evil plot. Buhari has nothing to offer Nigerians. Although it may take time but eventually the will of the people will prevail.

What APC and INEC have done is a rape on democracy, a mockery. It is a joke taken too far. The presidential election on Saturday and the result declared is like another June 12, a situation where the will of the people has been subverted by a clique. The battle to get justice may be prolonged but surely INEC and APC will not be allowed to go away with the injustice they ‘ve unleashed on Nigerians.”

On what is next for the group, Odumakin said “Afenifere will continue to speak out against injustice. We will continue to call for restructuring of Nigeria. Buhari is opposed to restructuring but Afenifere will continue to demand for it because that is the only way to build a Nigeria envisioned by the nation’s founding fathers.”

Leader of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Ahmed Yerima also believed the outcome of the poll does not reflect the true wishes of the people. His words,

“It is clear and obvious that Buhari and APC rigged the election. INEC manipulated the polls to suit Buhari and APC. The election clearly showed that INEC is only independent by name but there is nothing independent about INEC. INEC has failed, and millions of Nigerians are disappointed. Buhari is gradually turning Nigeria into a fascist state where all agencies and institutions are now under his control, and he dictate whatever he wants to them and they must obey. Look at all of them now, INEC, the military, the Police, EFCC, all of them are now under Buhari. Dictatorship is looming in Nigeria. With Buhari being declared by INEC as the winner when everything pointed to the contrary connotes danger for Nigeria. We are all going to suffer the consequences of INEC’s action. The election was a big disappointment. For the INEC Chairman, he will reap what he had sowed. Nemesis will catch up with him. INEC Chairman Prof. Yakubu is a total failure. There is law of Karma, a man will not go unpunished for his sins, Yakubu will surely answer for his crime against Nigerians. My advice to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is that he should not let go .He should seek legal redress by challenging Buhari in court.”

For Brig. Gen. Idada Ikpomwen [retd], a prominent voice from the Niger Delta and former Provost Marshall ,Nigerian Army, the outcome of the poll was far from expectation.

According to him, “I honestly don’t think the result of the presidential election reflect the mood of the country. I don’t believe INEC has discharged its duty as it ought to have done. Even in my own ward in Edo state I observed several lapses. There was complete absence of armed mobile policemen in my polling unit. Even though I have always voiced my opposition against the deployment of military men for election duty but on that day there was no security presence in my unit at all, and armed policemen were supposed to be on stand by.

“I’m surprised by the wide margin between Buhari and Atiku. I believe the result hardly reflect the mood of the nation unless we are not being sincere. It is unfortunate that buying of votes held sway during the election. I have reliable sources outside Edo state that confirmed that a lot of money passed hands .It is most unfortunate that votes buying reared its head across the country. I’m equally aware that some reputable international organizations also made observations that the level of interference with votes at collation centers was unacceptable. Even the African Union, AU, said and I read it clearly that INEC didn’t perform or live up to accepted standards.

“From the way I see the election, there is no way the result will not be challenged. But having said that I congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election. Until there is an appeal against him, the result still subsists. We wish him the best but I also urge him to put a lot of transparency into the government he will inaugurate. He should create more love among Nigerians. He should use all the legitimate power available to him to deal with insecurity. He should ensure that the nation’s security architecture is reformed at the earliest possible time. He should also look at how to carry out reforms in the country. Some people refer to this as restructuring. The truth is that if Nigeria is to survive and record progress certain fundamental changes must be carried out. Next time, INEC must do better than they had done. The voting process must improve. Card readers must be made to work.

“On the issue of military being drafted for election duties, I will continue to say it, military has no business with election or routine policing. The constitution has clearly stated where and when the military can be drafted, and this is  stated in Section 305 sub-section 3c wherein it was clearly stated that the military should not be deployed for civil responsibility unless there is break down of law and order. Even to do this, the President can’t do it alone, it must be with the consent and approval of the National Assembly. The military is not meant to be seen daily on the streets. They are not to carry out police duties. These are what I know as a military officer, and also as a lawyer. The military should be insulated from politics. Voting ordinarily is not  a war but in Nigeria politics is seen a s a do-or-die affair. Any aggrieved party during this election should not resort to self-help but seek legal redress.”

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