By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Clifford Ndujihe
ABUJA — Erstwhile Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, was, yesterday, returned to power in a historic election that saw the first defeat of an incumbent president in the history of democratic rule in post-colonial Nigeria.
President Goodluck Jonathan, candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, hours later conceded defeat and put a call to Buhari at about 5.15 p.m. with only Borno State yet to return its results. At that time, Buhari was already leading by 14,932,385 to the 12,638,310 votes scored by Jonathan.
Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, defeated President Goodluck Jonathan, the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP by 15,405,928 votes to 12,663,950 votes, according to final results declared by the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega.
The triumph of the 72-year-old Buhari followed sweeping victories in all but one of the six South-West states and all but two of the North’s 19 states. The endorsement of Buhari was, however, tempered in Jonathan’s South-South and the South-East states where the President won massively.
With the eyes of the world focused on Nigeria after the Saturday presidential and National Assembly elections, Jonathan put a foot in a personal march towards international statesmanship when he conceded victory to Buhari once the trend of the results put Buhari in an unassailable lead yesterday evening.
Shortly after the President made the call, he received a high powered delegation of statesmen led by a former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who came to congratulate him on his worthy example.
The routing of the PDP also went beyond its hold of the presidency as the party was, according to trend, also on its way to losing control of the National Assembly. The party which had since 1999 always won control of the National Assembly in every National Assembly election lost control of the Senate and the House of Representatives to the APC.
Buhari won in 22 of the 36 states and achieved 25 per cent of the votes in another three states, all of them in the North and the South-West. The outgoing president won in all the South-East, South-South states and also picked Ekiti in the South-West and Taraba and Plateau in the North.
Orubebe accuses Jega of being selective
The compilation of the results of the election at the International Conference Centre, Abuja was, however, not without its drama. Just after proceedings commenced yesterday, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, alongside a number of chieftains including a top security aide tried to stop proceedings on the allegation that Jega was biased in his conduct.
Orubebe particularly accused Jega of investigating the petition filed by the APC on the alleged breach of election guidelines in Rivers State by the PDP and at the same time sidestepping petitions filed by the PDP against alleged irregularities supposedly committed by the APC in five states in the north.
He said: “We have lost confidence in what you are doing. You are very selective, you are partial and selective, we don’t believe in you anymore. You have compromised, and we will not take it from you.
“We will not allow you, we will not allow this, Nigerians will not allow this, we will not allow this until something is done.
“Jega is partial, we will not take it. Let Jega set up a committee to go to Kano, Katsina, Jigawa and Kaduna to investigate our objections with the elections there as he did to Rivers State where the APC raised an issue. Jega has nothing to say here, he has nothing to say, let him go back to his office,” said an angry Orubebe, who even refused to allow Jega explain what happened.
Jega, however, subsequently dismissed the petition by the APC on Rivers allowing the state to return 1,487,075 votes for Jonathan. That was, however, not enough to bridge the gap that had already been established by Buhari.
Wild celebrations by APC supporters
As the news of the president’s concession filtered in, wild celebrations spread across the country with supporters spreading into the streets.
Buhari in a terse statement issued shortly after, however, called for restraint from party supporters, saying anyone celebrating with him would not be involved in the wild celebration that included the harassment of opponents.
“He or she is not with me, whoever does that,” Buhari curtly said.
“I thank you all for turning out en-masse for the March 28 General Elections.
Nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian — JONATHAN
Being text of President Goodluck Jonathan’s concession statement, yesterday.
“I promised the country free and fair elections. I have kept my word. I have also expanded the space for Nigerians to participate in the democratic process. That is one legacy I will like to see endure.
“Although some people have expressed mixed feelings about the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I urge those who may feel aggrieved to follow due process based on our constitution and our electoral laws, in seeking redress.
“As I have always affirmed, nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. The unity, stability and progress of our dear country is more important than anything else.
“I congratulate all Nigerians for successfully going through the process of the March 28th General Elections with the commendable enthusiasm and commitment that was demonstrated nationwide.
“I also commend the Security Services for their role in ensuring that the elections were mostly peaceful and violence-free.
“To my colleagues in the PDP, I thank you for your support. Today, the PDP should be celebrating rather than mourning. We have established a legacy of democratic freedom, transparency, economic growth and free and fair elections.
“For the past 16 years, we have steered the country away from ethnic and regional politics. We created a Pan-Nigerian political party and brought home to our people the realities of economic development and social transformation.
“Through patriotism and diligence, we have built the biggest and most patriotic party in Nigerian history. We must stand together as a party and look to the future with renewed optimism.
“I thank all Nigerians once again for the great opportunity I was given to lead this country and assure you that I will continue to do my best at the helm of national affairs until the end of my tenure”.