The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has rejected the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, describing it as the worst election since Nigeria’s return to Democracy in 1999.
Atiku stated this at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.
It was the first time he would be commenting on the 25 February election after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, was declared the winner of the poll.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who announced the result, said Mr Tinubu polled a total of 8,794,726 while Atiku polled 6,984,520.
Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) came third with 6,101,533 votes.
Altogether, 18 candidates contested the presidential election.
Earlier protest, call for cancellation
The PDP was the first to protest the collation of the presidential result and the subsequent announcement of Mr Tinubu as the winner of the election.
On Monday, during the collation of results at the National Collation Centre, the PDP Agent and member of the party’s presidential campaign council, Dino Melaye, insisted that INEC must upload the result of all polling units to the election viewing portal (IReV).
When the INEC Chairman attempted to continue the collation without uploading the results, he walked out of the collation centre in protest. He was joined by the LP’s agent.
The next day, while the collation of results was ongoing, the PDP called for the cancellation of the election results and the conduct of another election under the supervision of another person other than Mr Yakubu.
The LP, and the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), who came third and fourth respectively in the election, have also rejected the results.
Mr Obi said on Thursday that he would seek redress in court to reclaim his mandate.
Worst election since return of democracy
However, at the press conference at the PDP national secretariat, Atiku faulted the conduct of the elections, saying INEC, shattered the hope of Nigerians with the conduct of the election.
He said the election was neither free nor fair, adding that preliminary assessment has placed it as the worst conducted election since the country’s return to democracy.
He said the fraud and manipulation experienced in the election were unprecedented in the history of the country.
“The 2023 presidential election presented our nation and its people, with the greatest opportunity for a reset. We had everything going for us, the legal framework in the 2022 Electoral Act and the BVAS technology, the enthusiasm of Nigerians to turn out and in large numbers was a bonus,” he said.
“However, the dreams and aspirations of Nigerians who brave all the challenges to go and cast their votes on Saturday 25th February were shattered with the conduct of INEC which failed woefully to leave up to its expectations.”
The PDP candidate said he has consulted with the leaders of the PDP and other Nigerians and has resolved to challenge the elections.
He said his lawyers are reviewing the results for legal advice.
“I can still not understand why the electoral umpire was in such a hurry to conclude collation and announcement of results, given the number of complaints of irregularities, of bypassing of the BVAS, failure of uploading to the IREV and unprecedented cancellation and disenfranchisement of millions of voters in breach of the Electoral Act in the commission’s guidelines was indeed a rape on democracy,” he said.
“Having consulted leaders of our parties who are seated here with me and Nigerians in different walks of life, I have come to the conclusion that the processes and outcome of the presidential and National Assembly election last Saturday is grossly flawed in every material particular and as such must be challenged by all of us.”
Atiku also said he hoped the judiciary would redeem itself and rise to society’s expectations, saying it is the last hope of the people.
He also called on Nigerians to remain peaceful as the party take the steps to seek redress
He said: “In the end, who wins is not as important as the credibility of our elections and electoral process. I call on all men and women of goodwill to join hands with us in the vanguard to defend our constitution from brigandage of anti-democratic forces. Finally, I urge Nigerians to remain vigilant and resolute.”
The press conference was attended by the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, National Secretary, Sylvester Anyanwu, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, former Governors Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State, Boni Haruna of Adamawa State, Celestine Omehia of Rivers State and several other party faithful.
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