I’ve never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday – Atiku
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday said he would reclaim his ‘stolen’ mandate.
Speaking during a world press conference in Abuja, he said the result of the election announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission did not reflect the wishes of Nigerians and the votes of the electorate.
He said the election was the worst in 30 years, adding that he was consulting not only with his party members but other relevant stakeholders on his next line of action.
The former Vice-President thanked Nigerians for choosing democracy as a system of government.
He stated that democracy would be the government of the people and by the people only when the people’s choice prevailed.
According to him, that did not happen on Saturday.
He accused the Muhammadu Buhari administration of perpetuating electoral fraud.
He said, “On election day, we saw the implementation of grand theft of the people’s will. I am not one for hyperbole, so I will just let the facts speak for themselves.
“In Akwa Ibom State for instance, the result showed a statistical impossibility of a 62 per cent drop in voter numbers from the 2015 election even where voter registration and permanent voter cards collection rate were much higher in 2015. This is why voter suppression took place.
“You must recall, our party made this observation and complaint before the elections, that there were plans to implement voter suppression on the PDP or opposition’s strongholds and voter increase in the All Progressives Congress’ strongholds. This pattern was repeated in strongholds of the PDP including states like Delta, Rivers, Abia and Benue.
“As this was occurring, we saw another statistical impossibility where the real numbers did not tally but increased astronomically in Borno State by an almost miraculous 82 per cent in the midst of insecurity.
“This pattern was also repeated in other strongholds of the APC states.
One begins to ask if insecurity is conducive to higher voter turnout and security is antithetical to high voter turnout. It is further curious that the PDP’s margin of victory in states outside the South-East and South-South was extremely slim across the board. That again is a statistical impossibility.
“The fact is that when you calmly look at the numbers declared by INEC as results of the February 23, 2019 elections, they do not add up at all.
Let me say that I am not speaking as a member of the PDP, I am speaking as a Nigerian when I said the electoral fraud perpetuated by the Buhari administration this past Saturday cannot produce a government of the people for the simple reason that it does not reflect the will of the Nigerian people.
“My dear Nigerians, it is for this reason that I, Atiku Abubakar, reject the result declared by INEC which declared Muhammadu Buhari as duly returned by the majority of the lawful votes. I am conferring with not just my party but also the Nigerian people on the next step which will be revealed to the public shortly.”
Atiku appealed to the disillusioned and angry Nigerians, who he said, were let down by the process, to remain calm and steadfast, as according to him, “Rome was not built in a day.”
He said the PDP had the real figures and the facts, which, he said, had spoken so loudly on Saturday.
Atiku said, “As I have always said, this year is my three decades in Nigeria’s struggle for democracy. And this is the worst election in those 30 years. I told Gen Abdulsalami (Abubakar) two nights ago when he called me that not even the military conducted such a bad election.”
He also told his supporters and the PDP members not to be discouraged, adding that they would triumph in the end.
“This is a long journey but I am confident of victory. All hope is not lost, stay strong. By the grace of God, we shall triumph.”
He urged the international investors and friends of Nigeria who were to pull out of the country, not to do so.
Atiku, who claimed that the stock market lost N85bn on Tuesday, pleaded with investors to be patient and keep faith with the Nigerian people.
He said, “Your problem is not with the Nigerian people, your quarrel is with those who stole their mandate. Please do not punish the people by divesting from Nigeria.”
Atiku said he would not congratulate the President because the election was not free and fair but marred by many irregularities.
The former Vice President therefore said that he would challenge the outcome in court.
Atiku, in a statement he personally signed early on Wednesday morning, said, “If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South.
“However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, February 23, 2019. 2007 was a challenge, but President (Umaru) Yar’Adua was remorseful.
“In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping their noses down on the Nigerian people.
Recall that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday morning declared President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress as winner of the election, having scored 15,191, 847,while Atiku polled 11,262,978 votes.
Yakubu, while declaring Buhari winner, put the total number of valid votes at 27,324, 583.
He also said that 1,289,607 votes were rejected while the number of votes cast was 28,614,190.
But Atiku in a statement titled, ‘Democracy will not be emasculated in Nigeria,’ insisted that there were predetermined malpractices in many states.
This, he said, negated the results announced by the commission.
Atiku also wondered how states that were ravaged by terrorism could generate much higher voter turnout than peaceful states.
Meanwhile, the Coalition of United Political Parties has vowed not to recognise Buhari as Nigeria’s President beyond May 29, 2019.
The CUPP said the opposition parties would ensure, within civil means, that Buhari did not enjoy what they called a stolen mandate based on his declaration as the winner of last Saturday’s presidential election.
The coalition’s national spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, made the political parties’ position known in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ugochinyere urged Nigerians to continue to support the opposition parties in their quest to retrieve the mandate for the rightful owner.
He said, “The opposition rejects the cooked and panel-beaten figures and will not recognise General Muhammadu Buhari as carrier of legitimate mandate beyond May 29, 2019.
“We will do everything within civil and legal means to stop his enjoyment of a mandate soaked in the blood of his people.
“We hereby declare the President as the carrier of stolen mandate and urge all Nigerians to continue to resist within civil means this robbery and continue to support the opposition to retrieve this mandate and bestow it to the rightful owner. We shall never give up.
“We assure all Nigerians that the CUPP shall, starting from today (Wednesday), continue to lead the struggle to expose him and ensure what he stole is returned by the force of law.”
Describing Buhari’s victory as pyrrhic, Ugochinyere claimed that there was evidence nationwide that the 2019 presidential election was a clear departure from the electoral gains made in 2015.
He said it was glaring that the ruling All Progressives Congress stole votes and suppressed votes of the opposition to such an extent that the election was the worst since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
He added, “This electoral robbery by the Presidency can only be compared to the electoral heists of 1963 and 1983.
“Buhari has insulted us all and our sensibilities. He has dared us all. He raped our electoral decency. In a bid to hang on to power with the crooks under him, he murdered democracy.
“Only a person who lacks understanding will congratulate a man who set out to burn down our electoral system. We ask, how do you accept this madness?
“Accepting this without as much as stiff resistance and exposing the fraud that was committed by President Buhari and the APC in this election is the recipe for future stealing of votes and massive voter apathy since voters will not have confidence in the system and this vicious cycle will continue perpetually. There must be an end to vote stealing.”
While recalling that the President refused to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, Ugochinyere alleged that Buhari’s supporters aided by security forces, burnt card readers, stole electoral materials and sabotaged distribution.
“His soldiers, acting on his instructions against the judgement of court, chased the PDP agents out of collation centres.
“Returning Officers were held at gunpoint with security forces watching, in Imo, and made to announce fake figures.
“In Akwa Ibom, votes were destroyed and cancelled to reduce figures. In Lagos, he supported ethnic violence; votes for the first time were burnt because of President Buhari.
“Hundreds of thousands of citizens in Sabon Gari in Kano never voted because President Buhari ensured they never did because he was afraid he did not have their votes.
“He planned this onslaught on the people because he already knew he failed to perform and that the people had rejected him.
“Nobody was shot dead for ballot snatching, rather innocent Nigerian voters and citizens opposing this robbery were killed in Kogi, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta etc by security forces.
“The only recorded incident of apprehension of ballot box snatchers was as a result of the implementation of Opposition Code 20 by citizens in Lagos.
“His audacity that he will rob us and remain President is most insulting. He can get an announcement but he cannot get our support. He can rule with the guns and continue to kill and maim but we must stand firm from now till the end.
“President Buhari is not the man we voted. Our President is dancing and celebrating on the rivers of blood of slain citizens,” Ugochinyere added.
He said it was clear to Nigerians why Buhari destroyed the Supreme Court and removed the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, illegally.
He said, “He knew he would rob the people and had to first make sure that justice would be denied the people from the illegitimate head of the Supreme Court.”