President-elect Bola Tinubu said yesterday in Abuja that his certificate of return was not only an attestation of his victory at the February 25 presidential poll, but also a call to duty, which he could not ignore. Tinubu called on all Nigerians, both those who voted for him and those who did not, to join hands with him in a common endeavour to pull the country through its current difficulties.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in last Saturday’s presidential election told his opponents and their supporters that he understood their hurt following emerging from a tight race.
Tinubu spoke after he was presented with the Certificate of Return by Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
The former Lagos State governor said he needed the support of his opponents as much as Nigeria needed them. He reiterated his commitment to progress, development, and renewed hope for all Nigerians.
Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, said the outcome of last Saturday’s presidential election was a reflection of the wish of the electorate. Akeredolu claimed the exercise was the freest ever held election in the country.
Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko YakasaI, urged the presidential candidates of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, to accept the outcome of the presidential election.
But the vice presidential candidate of LP, Datti Baba-Ahmed, hinted that his party would challenge the results of Saturday’s presidential election in court. Baba-Ahmed took a swipe at the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, over claims that the senate did not approve electronic transmission of election results, saying such an “irresponsible person, who won senate election through the back door should not be listened to.”
At the same time, Nigeria Civil Society Coalition, otherwise known as the Situation Room, said the process leading to the declaration of results of last weekend’s presidential and National Assembly elections was neither credible nor transparent.
INEC, in the early hours of yesterday, declared Tinubu winner of the presidential election.
The former Lagos State governor polled a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku, who scored 6,984,520 votes, and Obi, who polled 6,101,533 votes. The New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso, came a distant fourth with a total of 1,496,687 votes.
Addressing the nation after he was handed the certificate of return, Tinubu said the certificate symbolised the country’s collective democratic attainment and even loftier aspirations. He said it also represented the impending transfer of a most sacred duty and trust from one person to another.
The president-elect stated that by taking the return certificate, he assumed a sacred duty he would never ignore, and assured the citizens, especially, the youth, that he would work day and night to his utmost ability to make Nigeria better.
Tinubu said, “As I hold this certificate, this moment is one of celebration and gladness for us. The road has been long. Yet, we walked it. The battle has been hard fought. Yet, we won it. But more importantly, I realise that I am just a servant of a larger purpose. You see, this is more than a document confirming the positive outcome of an election.
“At its most sublime, this certificate also symbolises that each of you has the ability to achieve what others believe is impossible for you to achieve.”
Tinubu said as he stood before Nigerians as president-elect, he was not different from other citizens, adding that if he can do it, others can do even better.
He said, “Our destiny as a people and nation depended on our ability to shed the artificial restrictions of bias and prejudice so that we live fully unto our democratic creed that no one is innately superior or entitled to greater rights and opportunities than any other Nigeria.”
Tinubu also stated, “Very soon, this nation would witness a young person standing before the nation holding this great symbol of democracy and national leadership. We shall see a woman standing before you, holding this certificate as its owner. We shall experience someone from a tribe that many people have tried to dismiss as unqualified for this high office.
“By dint of hard work, determination and unyielding belief in a noble endeavour, you can achieve the best of things.”
He stressed that there were young people listening to him who would one day be the leaders of Nigeria.
Tinubu said for his triumph at the polls to be a victory, it could not simply be a victory for one man or even one party, but it must become a victory for all Nigerians, who were committed to a greater society.
“I know many did not vote for me,” Tinubu said. “And you are disappointed that your candidate is not where I now stand,” he added.
He stressed, “I understand your hurt. To you, I extend the embrace and comfort of one family member to another. This great project called Nigeria beckons to us all. It is bigger and more important than any partisan divide.”
While calling on his supporters to continue to have faith in the mission that had been articulated, he said, “To those who didn’t support me, I ask that you not allow the disappointment of this moment to keep you from realising the historic national progress we can make by joining hands and hearts in a common endeavour to pull this nation through.
“In a phrase, I am asking you to work with me. I may be the president-elect but I need you. More importantly, Nigeria needs you. My heart and my door are open to you. I ask you to come in so that we may begin the task of rebuilding our national home together, day by day, brick by brick.
“Where there is poverty. Let us create prosperity and jobs. Where there is hunger, let us feed the people, chasing hunger from their midst. Where there is now scarcity, let us rediscover abundance. Where there is brutality, may we replace it with brotherhood.
“Where violence stalks the land, may we establish peace. Where others have erected temples to hatred and bias, may we construct permanent monuments to compassion and abiding affection.”
Akeredolu: Election Result Reflects Wish of Electorate
Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, yesterday, said the outcome of last Saturday’s presidential election was a reflection of the wish of the electorate, and described it as the freest exercise ever held in the country.
A statement by Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Richard Olatunde, stated that Akeredolu spoke in Abuja at the International Conference Centre, venue of the presentation of Certificate of Return to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as president-elect and the vice president-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima.
The governor, who disclosed that a Committee of Elders of the APC would soon begin to meet with co-contestants of the president-elect in a bid to assuage their loss, stressed that every aggrieved person would be met for reconciliation.
According to the Ondo State governor, “The president-elect has set up committees to meet with the gentlemen, who contested in the election for us to start the healing process. I belong to one of the committees. We are going to meet them and appeal to them so that we can work together.
“This is an election that was not padded. People who voted were counted, that is the way I see it, is not one which shows millions of votes. You can see the candidates, everyone won 12 states each, it has never been like that before.”
Akeredolu described the massive votes recorded by APC candidates in the presidential and National Assembly elections in Ondo State as attestation to the people’s love for his administration. He expressed happiness that his people willingly supported his clamour for a southern president after President Muhammadu Buhari’s two terms of eight years.
The governor stated, “Ondo people are progressives and we will always, at least, be on the side of progressivism. From the onset, we are at the forefront of clamour for a southern president and so we, have to put everything we had into it and we got support that is why we are able to make it.”
Yakasai to Atiku, Obi: Accept Outcome of Presidential Poll
Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko YakasaI, yesterday, urged the presidential candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi, to accept the outcome of the presidential election.
Yakasai, who addressed a press conference in Abuja, also called on the other contestants to congratulate Tinubu. He advised the president-elect to run an all-inclusive government by giving every part of the country a sense of belonging.
Yakasai said, “My call is to the winner, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I am sending my congratulations to you for this well-deserved victory and I urge you to run an all-inclusive government that will give every Nigerian from all parts of the country a sense of belonging.
“To those, who contested and lost, I urge you all in the spirit of democratic tenants and our national interest to embrace the outcome and congratulate the winner. As in every election, there has to be a winner and a loser.”
Yakasai also called for the re-introduction of the strategy of the National Development Plan, which he said was universally accepted as panacea for nation building.
Reacting to comments by former President Olusegun Obasanjo regarding the conduct of the election, the elder statesman expressed disappointment, and said he did not expect such from the former president.
Datti: We’ll Challenge Tinubu’s Victory, Knocks Lawan
Vice presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Datti Baba-Ahmed, hinted at plans by his party to challenge the results of Saturday’s presidential election in court.
Baba-Ahmed faulted the process that saw the emergence of Tinubu as winner of the presidential election, and said it was characterised by irregularities and violation of the constitution.
Addressing a press conference yesterday at the party’s campaign headquarters in Abuja, Baba-Ahmed insisted that Saturday’s election did not meet the minimum standard as prescribed by the Electoral Act, 2022. He reiterated LP’s stance on acting in line with the law in pursuing justice and urged the judiciary to demonstrate its independence, whenever the case was brought before a court.
Baba-Ahmed stated, “It is our position that the purported result didn’t meet the minimum criteria of a transparent, free and fair election in addition to the most condemnable attacks, voter intimidation, and suppression.
“Please, be assured of our determination to fight the injustice that has been perpetuated on Nigerians through all legal and peaceful means. We employ you all to, please, remain peaceful and calm as our fight and determination for a new Nigeria is just beginning.
“We equally encourage you all to continue with the campaigns and vote massively for the Labour Party in the forthcoming governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections on 11 March. Our principal, Mr Peter Obi, will in due course speak to you and, indeed, the nation.
“No amount of questioning will ever get Peter Obi or myself or any agent of the Labour Party to preach anything besides peace and tranquillity in Nigeria.”
On Senate President Ahmad Lawan’s assertion that the Electoral Act 2022 did not provide for electronic transmission of results, as demanded by some Nigerians, Baba-Ahmed said Lawan was a beneficiary of a corrupt process that also got him qualified through the backdoor to contest his senatorial election.
The LP vice presidential candidate said, “The senate president, as far as we are concerned, contested for presidency and now he is elected senator by the verdict of the Supreme Court. You cannot contest two elections. It is on record he contested the presidency. Now he sits as Senate President to give us this kind of opinion. Such an irresponsible person must never be listened to.”
Situation Room: Election Results Lack Transparency, Credibility
Nigeria Civil Society Coalition, otherwise known as the Situation Room, said the process that led to the declaration of results of last weekend’s presidential and National Assembly elections could not be considered credible and transparent.
In a report presented yesterday to journalists in Abuja, highlighting its observation and analysis of the elections, the coalition said the poll fell short of the credibility threshold it set out as basis for evaluating the elections.
The report jointly signed by Co-Conveners, Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu, said contrary to expectations, the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections “were marred by very poor organisation, severe logistical and operational failure, lack of essential electoral transparency, substantial disruption of voting, and several incidents of violence.
“As a result, the process cannot be considered to have been credible. Given the lack of transparency, particularly, in the result collation process, there can be no confidence in the results of these elections. In addition, there was very poor communication from INEC on election day and on its challenges with its processes; its citizens contact numbers did not work and even when there were challenges with uploads to the INEC Results Viewing (iReV) Portal.”
Situation Room said it was even more disappointing that the elections were held in an atmosphere in which the people showed remarkable commitment to democracy, eagerly engaging in the electoral process and waiting patiently to vote in very difficult circumstances.
According to the report, “In the light of the shortcomings outlined in this interim statement, the Situation Room calls on INEC to provide details of the process leading up to the results it collated for the elections. Situation Room demands that INEC provides information on why its promise to improve the transparency of the collation process through the introduction of the iReV Portal performed below expectation.
“Situation Room further demands that INEC conducts an audit of polling units where elections did not take place to establish the reasons for the failure. Situation Room also calls on INEC to note that public confidence in its capacity to run elections is gravely shaken, and that it would require extraordinary efforts for trust to be re-established.
“Situation Room calls on all political parties and aggrieved parties to pursue well-established constitutional and legal remedies available to them and go through the democratic process of the courts.
“We call on Nigerians to remain calm and express their displeasure, if need be, through a peaceful and democratic way. Finally, Situation Room commends Nigerians for the increased turnout recorded during the voting and calls for restraints even in the light of INEC’s failings.”