Buhari’s re-election: Matters arising – The Punch

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President Muhammadu Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, who got 11,262,978 votes in the 2019 presidential poll to win re-election. The poll ran concurrently with the National Assembly’s.

Ultimately, Nigerians solemnly look forward to succour particularly, infrastructural development and employment opportunities in the next four years. The other day, President Buhari pledged to work harder in his second term, unfortunately, it was misconstrued as an indication of tougher times ahead. The overwhelming trust the masses reposed in the President through the re-election cannot be taken for granted.

Politics in Nigeria has subconsciously undergone a paradigm shift, leaving some powerful political dynasties in unforgettable shock; flattened by the people. Moneyed-politics too got heavy punches. Hopefully, future elections in the county may begin to epitomise merit and a level playing field. Why? Scores of self-acclaimed ‘deciders’ were knocked out of the ring; synchronising Kingsley Moghalu’s catchphrase “retiring the old political-class”.

Beyond that, a baffling account is the trajectory of the PDP votes from the return of democracy in 1999. For emphasis, prior to the introduction of Smart Card Readers for accreditation, the PDP had recorded 18.7 million votes in 1999; 2003, 24.4 million; 2007, 24.6 million, and in 2011, 22.5 million votes. Eventually, when the card reader was introduced for digital accreditation, the party’s votes suddenly dropped to 12.8 million in 2015. In the recent elections, the PDP recorded 11.2 million votes in the presidential election. The hard question is how come the high figures the party persistently obtained before the advent of the card reader disappeared? Could it imply that schemers abysmally, persistently allocated figures with impunity for such gargantuan discrepancies? The huge figures obviously have big question marks. Sadly, the courts affirmed the elections.

On the other hand, Buhari maintained an average of 12 million votes before the introduction of the card reader. Subsequent to the merger that birthed the APC, it increased Buhari’s numerical strength; via card readers. Hence, Buhari’s votes rose to 15.4 million votes in 2015 to defeat Goodluck Jonathan. In the just-concluded polls, even as the incumbent, Buhari maintained 15 million votes. A cursory look at his scores logically points to consistency both prior and during the card reader. Beyond doubt, the smart card reader exposed and outsmarted the old order of daylight electoral robberies.

Further indications empirically suggesting the credibility of the polls include Senator Dino Melaye’s victory whose name wouldn’t have been omitted in any list if predetermined results (rigging) truly played out. The lawmaker won his re-election bid for the reason that democracy is a game of numbers. Probably, Melaye didn’t face the degree of heat Senate President Bukola Saraki contended with in Kwara.

For example, Saraki perceptively contended with overwhelming forces including the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, leading a league of Kwara professionals and the elite and then, his sister, Gbemisola Saraki, a powerful voice in the dynasty, that worked to deliver the state for the APC. Above all, the masses had for long been yearned for power shift, away from the Saraki political dynasty. The dynasty formerly led by his late father, Chief Olusola Saraki, controlled Kwara politics for decades until it was hijacked by Bukola. Eventually, the recent political tremor knocked him out like a dream.

In Adamawa State, Atiku’s home state which was overwhelmingly projected in his favour, recorded the opposite as votes were evenly divided between the two top contenders. One may hastily conclude a rigging if not meticulously weighed. Notably, the state produced the incumbent Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mustapha Boss, and Brig. Buba Marwa (retd.), who are highly influential figures in the state and the ruling party.

Atiku was equally an APC chieftain until he sensed uncertainty over the ruling party’s ticket against the incumbent, hence the last minute defection to the PDP. Unfortunately, these prominent figures wouldn’t have abandoned the ruling party they supported for years for another party when they are key players in the administration and the party respectively.

In Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s polling unit, the former President’s son, Olujonwo, who led the Buhari Youths Organisation, a strong campaign support group for Buhari’s re-election bid, campaigned vigorously across the country and overseas. Olujonwo on many occasions visited, reiterated unwavering support to President Buhari. Hence, delivering the polling unit in favour of the ruling party cannot be misconstrued as irregularity but a result of strategic planning and actions.

The apathy, violence and administrative challenges that affected all parties uniformly are clearly not sufficient grounds to annul an election. The postponement alone affected many voters. Foreign observers including the European Union and the United Kingdom, without prejudice, affirmed the polls as reasonably credible, free and fair albeit identified administrative challenges against the commission for improvement in future. On these premises, it is my contention that the people’s votes convincingly counted. Thus, INEC deserves commendations. Aligning with Lorie Myers, “True sportsmanship is excellence in motion”.

  • Carl Umegboro, Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United-Kingdom). 08173184542

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