One of the founding members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr Osita Okechukwu has stated that as a Buharist that had experienced the pain of losing post-election litigations, he fully understands the grief of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Labour Party, LP, and Allied Peoples Movement, APM, members over the outcome of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC)’s judgment.
Okechukwu, who spoke to journalists in Abuja in reaction to the judgment, noted that although the main opposition PDP had bright chances of bouncing back through the 2023 presidential election, the political greed of the party’s candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, denied the party victory.
The Tribunal judgement has so far gone in favour of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Okechukwu noted that while he sympathises with PDP, LP and APM, the petitioners, particularly supporters of the PDP and “the LP should not blame the PEPC but His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubukar, whose hubris and greed combined to deny them victory.”
He also noted that Atiku’s failure to rise to the golden opportunity and play as a statesman by throwing support for his erstwhile running mate Peter Obi or any other Southern presidential candidate divided the opposition party, adding, “Atiku dealt PDP a huge blow from which it might be difficult to recover.”
He dismissed claims by the petitioners that alleged irregularities in the conduct of the election, Tinubu’s qualification, as well as the failure to electronically transmit results in real time were fatal to the respondents’ case.
“Those intricate webs could have been resolved if Atiku had obeyed the zoning convention, supported Peter Obi or any other Southern presidential candidate it could been simply an all southern bout. The Wike masquerade couldn’t have emerged. That would have meant that the bulk of votes he garnered could have been credited to PDP.
“Atiku divided PDP’s votes irreparably, all the votes Labour Party garnered were from the party’s stronghold, minus voted warehoused by the former Vice President who naively forgot that northern voters are one of the most sophisticated in the country, but believed that northern electorate would behave like children in a dormitory waiting for directives on how to vote,” he declared.
Okechukwu, who is also the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (DG, VON), remarked that President Tinubu deserves accolades for rescuing the zoning convention which guarantees equity, and natural justice between the north and south.
He stated: “First and foremost, let me congratulate President Tinubu, for rescuing the zoning convention, a ligament binding north and south from unprecedented assault.
“To be honest, my take is that the opposition lost the election that day in 2022, when His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar trampled on the presidential zoning convention, which governed the 4th Republic Nigeria and was also embedded in his party’s Constitution.
“Recall that Atiku earned accolades when he stormed out of PDP Convention in 2014 in protest that President Goodluck Jonathan was breaching the zoning convention. And, in 2018, Governor Nyesom Wike hosted PDP Convention in Port Harcourt and ensured that only northern presidential aspirants contested for the presidential ticket as a way of honouring the zoning convention.
“So, it is obvious that when Atiku sacrificed statesmanship on the altar of narrow political ambition, one concluded that he had wittingly or unwittingly fatally wounded the fabric of PDP. And, going by the time worn cliché, a divided house cannot stand, Nigerians should recognise that Atiku by his greed denied PDP a possible victory.”
On the way forward, the APC chieftain suggested a revised Electoral Act that will resolve all evident ambiguities, by enthroning mandatorily only electronic accreditation and transmission of results.
“I subscribe to the idea that we should totally abolish manual collation of results and make electronic transmission of results mandatory.
“We also need to return to the popular Justice Uwais Handbook on Electoral Reform, which among other fine democratic tenets recommended how best to transparently recruit the INEC Chairman, Commissioners and sundry officials.
“With these altercations, Election Petitions will definitely be concluded before swearing-in of winners.
“Let us not forget that our democracy has witnessed tremendous advancement and keep in mind the fact that democracy is not a revolution, but a work in progress,” Okechukwu submitted.