By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo
The country is still with him. He won popular votes by a huge margin. He won in four of the six geographical zones. Buhari has proved his point. He is the choice of the majority, esteemed letter writers and a council of bishops notwithstanding.
It is within the rights of a loser to reject an election result. And to contest the outcome in court. Atiku Abubakar and the opposition have rejected the results of the presidential elections. And have headed to court. That is a healthy democratic option. A challenge in court will test some of the policies of INEC and clarify any lingering credibility questions. I believe a challenge in court could help the losing party heal gradually too.
With respect to the credibility of the elections held on the 23 of February, the international observers are untied on their approval. They agreed that there were irregularities and logistical challenges. They agree there were pockets of violence and regrettable loss of lives. They agreed there were instances of voter inducement. But they are united on the fact that the results, in the main, generally reflect the wishes of the electorate.
In other words, contrary to the assertions of the main opposition party, the PDP, Atiku Abubakar was not denied an election he won. Atiku Abubakar lost an election he truly lost. It’s important the country is not infected with the cynicism that has held some sections down for over three years. It’s necessary therefore to state and restate that international observers whose impartiality is not in doubt agree with the verdict of our election mangers, INEC.
And you don’t have to believe anecdotal evidence of observers. But it would be folly to resist scientific evidence – the outcome of the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) done by international observers and civil society. PVT is a research done to assess the relationship between the event at the polling stations and the final results announced by the electoral umpire. The PVT tests the fidelity of the process. And when the figures obtained by a diligent PVT tallies with figures announced as results by the umpire then the process ,objectively, can be ascribed credibility.
The civil society has announced that the PVT estimates for both voter turn out and voter accreditation tallies with INEC figures. But more importantly, the PVT estimates for votes garnered by both Buhari and Atiku statistically match and corroborate the final results announced by INEC for the presidential election.
So why is the opposition claiming victory?
It is well within the rights of the opposition to go to court. And Atiku Abubakar must be understood. He is in a difficult position. He migrated to the opposition a few months ago. And was received by suspicions held by some of the leaders of the opposition that he was probably a mole. Atiku may need to prove to the party he joined a few months ago that he isn’t a mole . His supporters in the south wonder how he could have been so disowned by his kinsmen in the Northeast. It could be healthy for the psyche of these his many fanatical supporters if he is seen to buy their conspiracy theories.
Atiku won in Oyo and Ondo states. Almost against the run of play. Nobody is contesting those results. They are being colorfully analysed. Atiku won in Rivers and Anambra massively. The opposition is not claiming those elections were rigged. Atiku struggled in Adamawa, his home state. The votes were almost evenly split. But no one is asking why the man who claims he employs half of the workforce in Adamawa had to struggle to win Adamawa.
His supporters paint a picture of an innocent vulnerable child exploited by adults at home. So it is the moral duty of outsiders to take up arms to fight the domestic abuse of the helpless child. They seem to forget that Atiku is a billionaire Fulani former vice president. Atiku is a rugged, battle tested , politician of the NPN/Yaradua school. Atiku Abubakar is not one green Moghalu or one effete Fela Durotoye. He is a political juggernaut. When he loses woefully at home then he was perhaps not bullied.
Atiku lost woefully in Gombe, Bauchi ,Yobe and Borno . And the opposition is wallowing in sentimental excursions of procedural abnormalities in the Northeast. Take Gombe. The governor of Gombe is a member of the opposition and he supported Atiku. Atiku could not have been bullied in Gombe. But Atiku lost woefully in Gombe. Yet many of his southern supporters would claim that Atiku would have won in Gombe if irregularities didnt occur. And they would claim that voters were perhaps allowed to vote without electronic accreditation. The question then is this: Were Atiku supporters in Gombe inhibited or treated differently?
Atiku is in court. There he has to prove there were electoral malpractices. And he has to prove that these malpractices were so widespread, so enormous that they affected the outcome of the elections. Atiku knows that on the 23rd day of February 2019 , nothing so overwhelmingly fraudulent happened across the country. I believe Atiku is in court to manage the grief reaction of his fanatical supporters.
He could also be there to extract some bargains for the opposition from the ruling government . Perhaps much like the Kenyan Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Our elections need to be improved upon. We must embrace electronic voting. And to enhance the integrity of that process facial recognition technology could be embraced. These will eliminate ballot box snatching . We could avoid collation fraud by employing block chain technology. This will allow everyone see a vote come in, in real time. There would be no need for transmission of results. That will shut the window on all the frauds perpetrated by during manual transmission using fake result sheets.
2023 elections must aim for this next level
But before then, let us eschew bitterness in politics. Let us wean ourselves off cynicism and political intolerance without dropping vigilance. Let us say the truth at all times. Our politics must focus on nation building which is the real aim of elections in the first place. Let losers embrace the spirit of sportsmanship. But let those who have genuine grievances go to court. That would help check the system. Let winners be magnanimous, as much as possible.
The president has buried the doubts. The elections were largely free and fair. The results are credible. But he has a duty now to build bridges across the country.