The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Wednesday urged Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to concede defeat having lost in the February 23 presidential election.
A statement by Muhammad Ibrahim-Biu, ACF National Publicity Secretary, made available to News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna, said Mr Abubakar should accept the will of the people.
“The ACF salutes the courage of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for putting up a gallant fight with an impressive performance in the presidential elections.
“The forum calls on Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of PDP as a committed democrat who cherishes peaceful democratic transition, to accept the will of the people, concede defeat and congratulate President Buhari on his well deserved victory at the just concluded elections.
“Especially as there are credible evidence that the elections have been generally peaceful, free and fair.
“Such concession on the part of the main challenger would be in the overall interest of Nigeria and place him among global democrats.”
The ACF, which supported Mr Buhari against Mr Abubakar, also urged other contestants to be magnanimous in defeat and congratulate their opponents who won.
The forum commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for conducting smooth and transparent elections, and refusing “to be intimidated or cajoled by the initial logistic challenges which led to the postponement of the elections by one week and other unfortunate incidences.”
ACF also saluted “resilient Nigerians for their personal sacrifices to not only exercise their franchise by voting candidates of their choice but also to ensure that their votes got counted.
“We equally salute other stakeholders, especially the National Peace Committee of General Abdusalami Abubakar, foreign and domestic election observers and many others for their wise counsel and commitment to peaceful election.”
It also appreciated the efforts of security agencies in making the elections relatively peaceful.
The forum congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his reelection and tasked him to strengthen national unity and inclusiveness so that no section or group is left out.
On the forthcoming governorship and legislative elections, the ACF called on INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders to tackle the problems of distribution of election materials, card reader glitches, ballot box snatching and others, before the election day.
“The ACF congratulates all Nigerians for their resilience, commitment and courage in exercising their civic responsibility amid challenges that are natural concomitant of such tasks and responsibilities.”
Like the ACF, Tony Momoh, a former information minister, on Wednesday advised Mr Abubakar to concede defeat and congratulate Mr Buhari.
Mr Momoh gave the advice in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos while reacting to the declaration of Buhari as the winner of the polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr Momoh said Mr Abubakar would earn respect, nationally and internationally, if he accepts the outcome of the results as the wish of the people.
The former minister also advised Mr Abubakar not to go to court but call to congratulate Mr Buhari as former President Goodluck Jonathan did in 2015.
He said the singular act made Mr Jonathan an instant hero, adding that Mr Abubakar could earn the same status if he allows national interest to rise above his personal ambition.
“A beautiful thing happened shortly after the results were announced in the 2015 general elections; Jonathan called the winner (Buhari) and congratulated him.
“That singular act not only made Jonathan a respected national figure, but also an international figure.
“Therefore, as a national leader, I will call on our friend, Atiku to call Buhari and congratulate him.
“That will make him not just a national figure like Jonathan, but also an international figure.
“Though court is an option, I advise him not to go to court because time will tell if he will get any reckoning after doing so.
“He should not allow anybody to deceive him, instead, he should immediately call Buhari to congratulate him,“ Mr Momoh said.
Mr Momoh said he believed the outcome of the election reflected the wishes of the people, adding that it was the aggregate of the results from polling units across the country.
He said that INEC had done what was expected of it as an impartial electoral umpire.
Mr Momoh said that he advised Mr Abubakar not because he did not believe in the court to seek redress as he went to court with Buhari in 2003, 2007 and 2011 to challenge election results.
The former minister said he is only giving the advice because he believes Mr Abubakar would earn respect by conceding defeat, rather than challenging what he called the will of the people.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, while announcing the results of the polls on Wednesday in Abuja, said Mr Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to the defeat Mr Abubakar who polled 11,255,978 votes.
Mr Abubakar had in a statement described the results as questionable, saying he would challenge it in court.