Akwa Ibom erupts in celebration over Buhari win

President Muhammadu Buhari

Thousands of Akwa Ibom residents thronged the streets of Uyo, the state capital, and other towns Tuesday, singing songs and waving brooms – the symbol of the All Progressives Congress – to celebrate the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president-elect.

Mr. Buhari, the candidate of the APC, defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan at the polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said.

Akwa Ibom State, for years a Peoples Democratic Party-controlled state, has lately broadened its opposition ranks, with extensive support for the APC, largely in protest of the leadership style of the governor, Godswill Akpabio, a key ally of President Jonathan.

Mr. Akpabio was accused by the state APC of masterminding massive rigging during Saturday’s presidential vote, returning over 800,000 votes for Mr. Jonathan.

Many believe majority of the votes were fictitious as evidenced by a video published by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, showing election officials colluding with agents of the PDP to thumbprint ballot papers in an area the state PDP governorship candidate comes from.

One resident said if a credible vote was conducted in the state on Saturday, the result would have been significantly different in favour of the APC.

During the election, deadly clashes erupted in many communities where residents dared to confront state agents who insisted that voters support only the PDP.

At least one person was killed in Mbierebe Akpawat, a village in Ibesikpo Asutan, the APC governorship candidate in the state, Umana Umana, said.

Afraid of such attacks, many supporters of the APC have cowered in the state in the past, doing little to be identified.

Notwithstanding, several Akwa Ibom people reject the impression that majority of the state’s population supports the PDP and Mr. Jonathan.

“Many people here are tired of Akpabio and Jonathan. People are tired,” said Ntiedo Ben, a resident of Uyo, the state capital. “You think people here don’t want change?”

On Tuesday, as it became clear Mr. Buhari was coasting to victory, even before the final announcement by Attahiru Jega, the chairman of INEC, youth and the elderly, brandishing brooms and shouting APC, spilled into the streets of many towns in Akwa Ibom, to celebrate.

“The level of celebration for Buhari here in Akwa Ibom, makes it clear that people felt shackled by Akpabio and now they believe freedom has come,” another resident said.


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