The announcement of the All Progressives Congress candidate Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of last week’s elections has been challenged by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidates for the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
As Atiku spoke at his first post-election press conference on Thursday in Abuja, he criticized the Independent National Electoral Commission for the way it selected Tinubu as the winner and the next president.
He added that he was speaking to Nigerians with a heavy heart because the events that took place under the current INEC leadership fell short of the global standard for elections.
In order to chronicle Nigeria’s democratic development from the struggle to overthrow military dictatorships to the establishment of the fourth republic in 1999, Atiku traveled back in time.
He declared, “I have spent the last three decades of my life to the fight to establish and strengthen democracy in our nation.
“It was a conflict that began in the age of the military. In Kaduna, it was a struggle that almost cost my life and the life of my son, Adamu. The only reason I survived the assassination was because of God’s mercy and grace.
“After that assault, I was compelled to leave my home. Yet, some police officers lost their precious lives in that incident.
“That was not all: my businesses were nearly crippled and my signature business was eventually appropriated by the maximum ruler of that era.
“My commitment to enthroning democracy ensured that I joined forces with other compatriots. As a leader of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), we fought and won the 1993 presidential election, which was acclaimed as the fairest and freest election in our history..
“Sadly, Chief MKO Abiola, who embodied that hope for the birth of a new Nigeria, paid the ultimate price
“Our fight to enthrone democracy continued. Indeed, the motivating factor for the birth of the Peoples Democratic Party was to force the exit of the military from government and their permanent return to the military barracks.
“Following the exit of the military and the advent of democratic rule in 1999, I did not rest on my oars. I deployed the same level of commitment to advance and deepen our democracy.
“ I did this because our democracy was bought at a huge price of human lives. My mentor and true Nigerian hero, who this venue in which we are gathered this evening is named for, was one of those who paid the ultimate price in that battle. So, also was Chief Alfred Rewane, Chief MKO Abiola and his dear wife, Chief (Mrs) Kudirat Abiola.
“The manipulation and fraud that attended this election was unprecedented in the history of our nation. I can still not understand why the electoral umpire was in such a hurry to conclude collation and announcement of the result, given the number of complaints of irregularities of bypassing of the BVAS, failure of uploading to the IREV, and unprecedented cancellations and disenfranchisement of millions of voters in breach of the Electoral Act and the commission’s own guidelines. It was indeed a rape of democracy.
“Having consulted with leaders of our party and Nigerians from different walks of life, I have come to the conclusion that the processes and outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly election of last Saturday was grossly flawed in every material particular, and as such must be challenged.
“This has been attested to by both local and international observers. I want to believe that this was not the legacy that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised.
“For President Buhari, it is not too late to make amends for the good of our country and the future generations and indeed to assure his legacy.
“This battle to right the wrongs of Saturday is not about me. It is a continuation of my battles to deepen democracy and for a better life for our people. It is about the future of Nigerian youths.
“Finally I urge Nigerians to remain vigilant and resolute. You have the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom to choose your leaders. We will not sit idly by and watch your rights taken from you.”
In a same vein, Peter Obi asserted that he won the election during a news conference that was broadcast on Thursday and promised to provide proof.
Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress won the presidency in a contentious election that he said was rigged to produce predetermined outcomes.
He continued by saying that Nigerians had been denied their right to choose, and he would use the legal system to seek redress.