The declaration of Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) as the governor-elect of Kano State on Monday was what he had been clamouring for since 2019, but with the intrigues leading to his declaration, this may be the new phase of the fight to “reclaim” the mandate, Daily Trust reports.
By the time the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Returning Officer for the election, Professor Ahmad Doko Ibrahim, declared Yusuf as the governor-elect at exactly 7:07am on Monday, the unison in the proclamation of “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) by the majority of party agents at the collation centre and sighs of relief, signalled the end to the over 17-hours of tension-soaked collation process.
The celebrations on the streets that would follow further confirmed how edgy the state had been during those long hours.
Professor Ibrahim had declared that Yusuf polled 1,019,602 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 890,705, adding that Yusuf “having satisfied the requirement of the law is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected.”
But for five hours before that period, the mood at the collation centre was that of uncertainty despite everyone already confirming since 2am that Yusuf polled 128,897 votes more than Gawuna when the final LGA’s results (Dala LG) were announced and added to the already collated results from the 43 other LGAs of the state.
From the beginning of the collation exercise, it was obvious that both parties were more concerned about the number of cancelled votes than they were of the votes scored. While it could be argued that APC was playing at ensuring the election was declared as inconclusive, which favoured the party in 2019, NNPP was playing at ensuring it emerges winner at the first ballot, to avoid the 2019 scenario.
But after the last local government results were entered, which showed NNPP to be ahead by a wide margin, there were still uncertainties. These uncertainties were about whether or not the margin of lead would be sufficient enough to declare Yusuf as the winner because of the widespread violence across the state which saw elections cancelled in 385 polling units of 180 registration areas across of 38 out of the 44 local government areas.
The total number of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collected in these areas where elections were cancelled stood at 273,442, according to the final tally of the returning officer.
However, a defining factor in the election would come up a few hours before the final declaration when the returning officer, less than two hours after retiring into a secluded and serene place, returned to the collation centre and announced to all that based on his interpretation of the Electoral Act and election guideline, where election was cancelled as a result of violence, the disenfranchised voters in such area would not count in the margin of lead principle between the first and second.
He then went ahead to separate cancellation as a result of violence from cancellation as a result of over-voting, adding that only the latter would be considered in the principle of lead of margin, which then reduced the disenfranchised voters in these areas to 84,849 (based on PVCs collected).
While the agent of APC, Rabiu Suleiman Bichi, vehemently opposed this interpretation, the agent of NNPP, Dr Abdullahi Baffa Bichi, leading nine other party agents, agreed with it.
It was the NNPP agent that led the charge against the returning officer going into a secluded area to come up with this interpretation.
It could be recalled that earlier, when the returning officer had mooted the idea of retiring to a secluded place to collate the results, it took almost an hour of appeal by him and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Ambassador Abdu Zango, to convince the agent of the NNPP and others, who had expressed fear that the move would affect the transparency they had been clamouring for.
Outside the collation centre, the supporters and leaders of NNPP, led by its national leader and presidential candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the governorship candidate (at that time), the senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect as well as other leaders of the party like Buba Galadima had trooped out in their thousands for a vigil on Katsina road, the closest area to the cordoned-off INEC office.
Their action was similar to what took place the night before when thousands of people were seen escorting election results from registration area collation centres to the local government collation centres within the city.
Recall that a few hours after the close of the poll, both APC and NNPP had ordered their supporters to go to the various local government collation centres and monitor the process of collation. This followed the spate of violence recorded during the polls and allegation and counter-allegation of rigging between the two parties.
Daily Trust had reported that during the polls, election materials were destroyed across several polling units in several local government areas both within the metropolis (Dala) and outside the metropolis (like Rimin Gado, and Danbatta among others).
There were also cases of violence and outright disenfranchisement of voters at various polling units with the earliest observation being at Chiranchi area where the chairman of APC, Abdullahi Abbas and the NNPP candidate (Yusuf) had their polling units. Several arrests were also made.
The spate of violence was thus a recurrent scenario, with reports received at the collation centre and from collation officers from all the LGAs reporting that several polling units had to be cancelled because of violence, disruption of the electoral process, destruction of electoral materials and over-voting.
The only exception was Tarauni, where the collation officer admitted that though there was violence, it did not affect the collation of results, saying the violence broke out after the collation and that even though election materials were destroyed, the result sheets escaped the destruction.
However, APC has petitioned the electoral umpire to within seven days review the declaration of NNPP’s Yusuf as the winner of the election.
The party said the declaration made by the returning officer was “contrary to the combined provisions of Section 24, 51 of the Electoral Act, 2022, Article 62 of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Election, 2022, and items 4.2.16, Note 32 at page 84 and item 6 of the Table at page 93 of the Manual for Election Officials, 2023 which made it mandatory that whenever disenfranchised voters who have collected their permanent voter cards (PVCs) outweigh the margin of lead between the candidate with the highest number of valid votes cast, and his runner up, the commission will declare the said election as inconclusive and order for a rerun election at a further date.”
It said INEC had declared several elections inconclusive in the current election circle, including that of Doguwa/Tudunwada federal constituency which was initially announced to have been won by APC’s Alhassan Doguwa but later declared to be subject to a supplementary election in areas where violence was recorded.
But in a chat with Daily Trust, Umar Haruna Doguwa, chairman of NNPP in Kano said it was a shame that APC, a party that had been in power for the last eight years, had to reduce itself to scavenging for an inconclusive election.
He said it was clear for all to see from the just-concluded presidential and National Assembly elections that NNPP is the party to reckon with in Kano State and that the results during that circle of the election already indicated where the governorship would go.
“The fact that they are requesting for inconclusive and not arguing that they even won the election shows that they knew without anyone telling them that they lost squarely.
“It’s a shame that they have now reduced themselves to scavenging for declaration of the election as inconclusive.
“This path they are following is what is expected of a new or small party, not a party that had been in government for eight years, with commissioners, ministers, councillors, chairmen and even contractors that have benefited from them,” Doguwa said.
For the NNPP, Doguwa said, the target is now on how to bring Kano State back to its rightful place and correct all the anomalies of the last eight years.
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