By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — The ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, formally congratulated Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) on his election as president-elect of the country even as it affirmed that it was still weighing its options on challenging the elections based on alleged irregularities it claimed characterised the polls.
In its first formal reaction to the release of the election results, the party told its faithful that it was not yet out as it pledged to mobilize all resources to ensure victory in the forthcoming state governorship and houses of assembly elections.
The assertions of the PDP came as the victorious All Progressives Congress, APC, itself formally congratulated its candidate, Buhari on his success in the polls.
The APC also commended President Goodluck Jonathan on what it described as the rare “sportsmanship he exhibited by conceding defeat and congratulating Buhari even before Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, formally declared him as the winner.”
The incoming ruling party pledged that it would expect the kind of constructive opposition it gave to the PDP after the presidential inauguration, saying that such criticisms help keep a government on its toes.
We’re not down —PDP
The PDP in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu‘azu, besides congratulating Buhari on his victory, also commended President Jonathan for his sportsman-like attitude in not dragging the process.
He said: “For us in the PDP, we want to state in very clear terms that we are not down. We are only at our redefining moment. Rather than demoralise us, this election has afforded us great lessons and we are now more than ever before reinvigorated for the race ahead.”
Mua’zu, who noted that the party received reports of alleged serious irregularities which it said characterised the conduct of the election, said that as a party, it would channel the protests to the appropriate quarters in accordance with rule of law and democratic ethos.
Mu‘azu, who said the party would determine whether the result was reflective of the wishes and aspirations of the people, said: “Sixteen years ago, Nigerians gave our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the mandate to build, nurture and deepen democracy after three decades of military rule in our country.
“That historic mandate was freely given in recognition of the courageous and patriotic role of the founding fathers of our party whose resilience and doggedness championed the return of democracy and the personal freedom we all enjoy today.
“Within this period, our party worked very hard in rebuilding and strengthening democratic institutions, tenets and norms while lifting our status as the leading democracy in Africa and one of the best in the world.
“It is incontrovertible that under the PDP-led government, our nation moved from a near pariah status to a strong actor in the international democratic arena, a product of various electoral reforms and our iron-cast commitment to transparent, free and fair electoral process at all levels.
“Even in the midst of obvious threats to our democracy, the PDP and the government it sponsored continued to stabilise the polity through strict adherence to rule of law and liberalisation of the political and economic space.
PDP achieved significant milestones
“In the last 16 years the PDP-led administration achieved significant milestones in our social and economic lives. We moved Nigeria from a debtor nation to Africa’s largest economy and one of the fastest growing in the world, a feat, which is accompanied with unprecedented expansion of the private sector as well as multi-sectoral infrastructural development, all, great legacies we achieved for our nation.
“Presently, our nation is at the threshold of history and its defining moment for the future. As you are aware, in the early hours of Wednesday, April 1, 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, returned the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as winner of the 2015 presidential election.
Nothing’ll be done to truncate our democracy
“However, we have received reports of serious irregularities that characterised the conduct of the election and we shall channel our protests to the appropriate quarters in line with our profound respect for the rule of law and democratic ethos.
“Our party comes with great values and tradition and we will adhere to them and ensure that nothing is done to truncate our democracy, which we have proudly worked so hard to nurture and sustain to maturity.
“Therefore, if the outcome of the election is truly the reflection of the wishes and aspirations of our citizens, the PDP will most willingly respect that wish.
“What is paramount to us is the survival of our democracy, the unity, peace and progress of our dear nation and the happiness of all our people. Nigeria is bigger than any political party, individual or group and her overall interest must be our priority at all times.
PDP commends Jonathan, Buhari
“It is in this light that we as a party commend our flag bearer, President Goodluck Jonathan for his heroic act in conceding to the voice of the people, an action that stands him out as a true democrat and a statesman.
“We also congratulate the APC flag bearer, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, for his resilience and victory in this election while wishing him success in the onerous task of leading our nation once again.
“On the same note, we wish to also commend the electorate for the peaceful manner with which they conducted themselves in the course of this election.
“As we return to the electorate for the April 11, 2015 governorship and state assembly elections, we assure all our candidates in the remaining elections that the party will stand with you, campaign with you and work vigorously to ensure your total victory at the polls.
“Finally, we call on our party faithful to remain steadfast in our renewed effort to deliver our flag bearers in the remaining elections.”
Jonathan now a statesman —APC
The APC in its own formal reaction to the results thanked Nigerians for voting for the party as it promised that the Buhari administration would rekindle hope and bring succour to the people.
The statement issued by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, read: “Nigerians have used their votes to bring change. We hear their message loud and clear: They want a government that works, and will not hesitate to use the same votes to kick out any government that fails to deliver.”
APC also commended President Goodluck Jonathan for the rare sportsmanship he exhibited by conceding defeat and congratulating Gen. Buhari, even before INEC formally declared him as the winner.
The party said by that singular act, which went a long way in dousing post-election tension, the President has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, written his name in gold in the annals of Nigeria’s history and catapulted himself to a statesman.
It’s time to put acrimonious electioneering campaign behind
APC said it was time for all Nigerians, irrespective of their political leaning, to put the acrimonious electioneering campaign behind them and to forge a united front to tackle the enormous challenges facing the nation.
It said: “The APC-led Federal Government will work for all Nigerians, whether or not they voted for us in the elections, or did not even vote at all. Our party will not discriminate against any Nigerian on the basis of religion, region, ethnicity or gender. We are all God’s own people.”
APC said it would also appreciate a virile opposition, because it is indispensable in any democracy worthy of that nomenclature.
“Having been in opposition ourselves, we know what it means to keep the government of the day on its toes with very robust and constructive criticism, and we expect no less from those who have swapped places with us,” the party said.
Lauds media, ECOWAS, EU, AU, UN
It commended the media for staying true to its constitutional watchdog role, saying without the support of this fourth estate of the realm, Nigeria may neither have enjoyed democracy nor sustained it.
APC thanked ECOWAS, the African Union, the EU, the UN and the entire international community for their support for the country’s democratization process, describing as invaluable their role in the success of the ongoing political transition.
“Equally worthy of our gratitude is the civil society. Working relentlessly under the umbrella Situation Room, civil society organisations played an unprecedented and very important role before, during and after the Presidential/National Assembly elections. We, and indeed all Nigerians, owe them a debt of gratitude for the success of the elections,’’ the party said.
‘’Finally, and most importantly, we want to give glory to God for His divine intervention that has always pulled our country back from the brink, even at times when hope was in short supply and the night seemed so dark and unending.”