– Prsents facts of the matter
THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2023: SEPARATING THE FACTS FROM FICTIONS.
TEXT OF THE PARLEY HELD WITH THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA AT THE NATIONAL PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON D.C, UNITED STATES ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12TH, 2023 BY REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PRESIDENT-ELECT, SENATOR BOLA AHMED TINUBU – MR. FESTUS KEYAMO, SAN (CHIEF SPOKESPERSON AND MINISTER OF STATE, LABOUR); MR. SUNDAY DARE (MINISTER OF YOUTH AND SPORTS); MR. AJURI NGELALE (ASST. PRINCIPAL SPOKESPERSON).
(1) It is our pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the National Press Center in Washington D.C for this interactive session on Nigeria’s Presidential Election, 2023. We do not intend to make this a long-winding and boring session, so we shall go straight to the points we intend to make to clear some of the fallacies that have been peddled around the world by the sore losers at the said election.
PREPARATION FOR THE ELECTIONS: A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
(2) The country’s out-going President, Muhammadu Buhari, signed into law a Bill that seeks to improve our electoral process by introducing technology as a means of accrediting voters at the polling units. This is known as the ELECTORAL ACT, 2022. The opposition and international observers hailed him on this.
(3) There was also complete non-interference in the political process by State institutions. There were no reports of deployment of security agents or State apparati in support of the candidate of the ruling party. In fact, in some instances, the opposition celebrated the fact that our candidate had no support of the Government. These led to well-published reports (albeit false) that the President was not in support of the candidate of his own party.
THE STATE OF THE LEADING PARTIES BEFORE THE ELECTIONS
(4) The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled 21 out of the 36 States of the country and the FCT before the elections with elected Governors; whilst the main opposition, the People’s Demoratic Party (PDP) had 14 Governors and the All Progressives Grand Alliance had one Governor. The Labour Party had no single Governor or elected official at any level of Government.
(5) About eight months to the elections, the main opposition, the PDP, suffered some major set-backs. Its Vice-Presidential Candidate in 2019, Mr. Peter Obi moved to the Labour Party with his supporters, mainly from his region of origin, the South-East. Another of the Party’s main pillar of support in the North-West, Alhaji Musa Kwakwanso moved to the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), taking with him a chunk of the party’s supporters in that region. Five (5) out of the 14 Governors of the PDP, publicly announced they would not be campaigning for or supporting its Presidential Candidate (Alhaji Atiku Abubakar). Meanwhile, the ruling party remained one huge, indivisible entity with no departure of any of its elected officials or public dissent from them. It was in this state of affairs that all the parties went into the elections.
THE ELECTION OF FEBRUARY 25TH, 2023
(6) Contrary to the false outcry by the opposition, the main technological device, Bi-modal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) did not fail on the election day. All the local and international observers scored the use of BVAS very high, with one local body called YIAGA, working in coalition with the EU and other International Observers, saying it recorded 88% success in all the polling units it monitored. The Nigeria Bar Association also issued its report saying only 8 percent of voters were not satisfied with the process on that day. The portal that the opposition made so much noise about, IREV, is just a viewing portal, which has nothing to do with accreditation or verification of voters or even the counting or recording of votes.
(7) Whilst we hold no brief for the Electoral Commission, it sufficiently explained to Nigerians the next day that the delay in uploading the results to the viewing portal was as a result of a technical glitch. And since the results have since been uploaded eventually, none of the parties have produced their own copies of the result sheets obtained at various polling units that substantially contradicts the results released and announced by the Electoral Commission. Even in their Election Petitions presently before the Court, no such alternative figures have been provided. So, what is all the fuss about?
(8) It is significant to note that some other elections into the Senate and House of Representatives held on the same day, at the same time and with the same personnel. The opposition candidates have since gleefully gone to collect their Certificates of Return for the various seats they won. Why did they not reject the outcome of those elections too and reject their Certificate of Return? This is hypocrisy taken too far.
THE RESULT OF THE ELECTION
(9) On Wednesday, the 1st of March, 2023, the Electoral Commission announced the results as follows:
§ APC – 8,794,726 (36.61%)
§ PDP – 6,984,520 (29.07%)
§ LP – 6,101,533 (25.40%)
§ NNPP – 1,496,687(6.23%)
Other smaller parties scored some negligible figures.
(10) The winner, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has since collected his Certificate of Return and the Transition Committees are working hard towards a smooth transition.
THE ANALYSES AND CREDIBILITY OF THE RESULTS
(11) Our Constitution requires a Presidential candidate to secure the highest number of votes and score at at least one-quarter of the votes in two-thirds of the States of the Federation which includes the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Only Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu met these requirements especially that of the spread (he scored 25 percent and above in 29 States), even though all 3 top candidates won 12 States each. The candidate of the PDP scored 25% and above in just 21 States, falling short of the 24 States required and the candidate of the Labour Party scored 25% and above in 15 States plus the Federal Capital Territory, making it 16 States. There was just no pathway to victory for these candidates who did not have the requisite national acceptability. So, how tenable is the claim of rigging the elections? We see none
(12) It is significant to note that the elections were so credible that it threw up some upsets in our otherwise settled demography. For the first time, 20 sitting Governors lost their States, mostly those of the ruling party. Seven Governors who sought elections into the Senate failed to scale through. This has never happened in the history of Nigeria. In addition, the President-Elect lost his home State (Lagos State); the sitting President lost his home State (Katsina State); the Director-General of the Campaign lost his home State (Plateau State); the ruling Party Chairman lost his home State (Nassarawa State); the Chairman of the ruling Party’s Governor Forum lost his home State (Kebbi State) and the ruling party lost some of its traditional strong holds like Yobe State, Kaduna State and Kano State. All these go to show that it was a keenly contested election and one of the most credible in our history.
(13) The reports of some irregularities and violence in some polling units could not have affected the overall outcome of the elections too. There are 176,974 polling units in Nigeria and infractions and violence were recorded in less than one percent of these units. How could these have affected the overall results of the elections? Whilst we look forward to an era when there would be no single casualty during elections in Nigeria, however, the statistics show that 2023 recorded the lowest casualty rates ever. During the 1964/65 elections about 200 deaths were recorded as a result of election violence; 1993 election recorded 100 deaths; 1999 election recorded 80 deaths; 2003 polls recorded 100 deaths and 2007 polls recorded 300 deaths. The 2011 polls recorded 800 deaths, the 2015 polls recorded 100 deaths and the 2019 polls recorded 150 deaths. However, the 2023 polls recorded no more than 28 deaths as a result of election violence. So, the claim that this is the “worst” election so far is totally unfounded.
(14) In conclusion, our laws have provided for settled means by which election disputes are resolved. The aggrieved parties have taken advantage of this remedy by filing their cases in Court. We urge them to have faith in our judicial system and desist from spreading false tales about our election across the world.
Meanwhile, arrangements for the handover ceremonies are in full gear. The President-Elect will take his Oath of Office as President of Nigeria on May 29th, 2023. You are all invited.
FESTUS KEYAMO, SAN, FCIArb (UK)
For and on behalf of the team