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p18 for editing Buhari and March 28 in Nigeria’s history By Hamza Idris Today is exactly one year when former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari…

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Buhari and March 28 in Nigeria’s history

By Hamza Idris

Today is exactly one year when former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari was elected as president of Nigeria.

It was the election that saw a candidate from an opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), defeating a sitting president from a powerful political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which prided itself as the largest political association in the African continent.

Similarly, the election saw a different political party getting the majority seats in the National Assembly, an accomplishment that was never recorded since the return of democracy in 1999. The same feat was recorded in gubernatorial and house of assembly elections in many PDP states in the South-west and North-central.

Buhari’s election was therefore seen as momentous, a new order and a new down in Nigeria. He got large chunk of his votes from the masses, who strongly felt detached and abandoned by the previous government of the PDP.

A section of the elite, who equally saw the writing on the wall that the ‘Buhari Tsunami’ will surely not spare them if they showcase any resistance, had no option but to key-in.

Similarly, while there was strong believe that Buhari’s popularity, impeccable character, strong commitment to the Nigerian project and his personal integrity in the eyes of world leaders have played key role in clearing his way to the Aso Rock Villa, pundits believe that the role played by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was more important.

The introduction of the card reader by the former INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had drastically reduced countless irregularities that marred previous elections and gave unfettered access to politicians to manufacture results in their favour.

“Nigerians must give credit to where it’s due,” said Mohammed Jaura Abdu, who is the chairman of Yobe State Independent Electoral Commission (YOSIEC).

“Though Buhari had basic credentials of becoming a president, he alone cannot be a candidate and a judge in the same election. We must salute Prof. Jega for resisting flagrant provocation from various quarters during the conduct of the election and while declaring results.

“Look at how Jega deployed the concept of ‘opportunity cost’ and accepted the over blown votes brought from Rivers State, all in an effort to jack up what former President Goodluck Jonathan had. Look at how he (Jega) responded to the diatribe from Orubebe, all in an effort to save the county. The way the 2015 election was conducted remains the single factor that brings us this far,” he said.

Undoubtedly, the election was therefore a watershed in Nigeria’s history. It was probably the only contest that showcased two major blocs hotly contesting for power- the hitherto ruling PDP and then opposition APC, which is a product of powerful political parties -the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), the nPDP, a breakway from ruling PDP and some element of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

Various elections, including the presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assemblies were first scheduled to be held from 14 February 2015. However, due to so many reasons, including alleged poor distribution of voters’ card and the insecurity in the North-east, INEC postponed the election by six weeks to 28 March.

However, most Nigerians believed that the real reason for the postponement was to pave way for the PDP, which to put its house in order because it sensed danger that there was widespread disaffection across the land.

After Nigerians cast their votes, Buhari, who nominated Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) as his running mate got 15,424,921 votes, representing 53.96 per cent of the total votes cast; while Jonathan, who was seeking a second term alongside Arc. Namadi Sambo as his deputy scored 12,853,162 votes, representing 44.96 per cent.

Throughout the period of the election, Nigeria was at a standstill- no movement by road, by air or by sea even as all the country’s borders were sealed.

The presidential election, which was extended to 29 March, due to some technical factors, finally came to an end when Jonathan conceded defeat on 31 March, a development that doused serious tension, especially in northern Nigeria, where there was apprehension on the possible repeat of the 2011 elections.

Again, the 2015 election, the fifth since 1999, adjudged the most credible, was said to be the most expensive election ever to be held in Nigeria.

The presidential election was also the only one that was never contested in court, either by a political party, a group or an individual.

But despite its ‘perfections’, the new INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that the electoral empire was made party to 680 cases filed by the various political parties at the end of the 2015 elections.

Yakubu stated this at the national conference for justices of the court of appeal and election petition tribunal judges with the theme ‘2015 Election Petition Tribunals and Appeals’ which was held in Abuja.

Twelve months down the line, INEC is still battling to clear its name in various courts over alleged irregularities that that trailed other elections. It also held various reruns in some states but earned bashings from the public for trying to ‘institutionalize’ the tradition of inconclusive elections.

On the other side, Buhari, who is now 73, has remained an enigma, not only to the elite and the politicians but to the masses, who are equally sharply divided as to what the president means to them, or whether he had met their expectations.

His actions, inactions, policies and declarations have gone a long way in eliciting mixed grill of celebration and murmuring from various quarters.

Similarly, his style of leadership, philosophy, frank approach to issues have severally clashed with the boastful manifesto of the APC, and are also the direct opposite of the hustling and bustling that characterised the 16-years of the PDP.

Two things that are constantly resonating recently include the remark he made in his speech shortly after he was sworn-in as president on 29th May, 2015, when he declared that “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”.

It was a remark that took over the cyber space and the conventional media, with various stakeholders, including politicians, diplomats, technocrats and the masses giving it various interpretations.

At the end, analysts believe that Buhari simply meant that he will be for the masses, not for any group, political party or godfather.

The second issue is that Buhari had noted that some few people were afraid and had privately voiced fears that on coming back, he will go after them. “These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue,” he said.

He, however, assured that he will give corruption a big fight, wipe out security threat occasioned by the Boko Haram and revitalize the economy. He also assured neighboring countries that Nigeria will be ready to play any leadership role in Africa.

Buhari’s admirers are of the opinion that he had almost delivered in the fight against the Boko Haram and has gone far in attacking corruption.

But there are those that fault his economic policies, which have so far failed to mitigate rising cost of almost everything, acute fuel shortages and job losses in the land.

As a result of some of these factors, the Governance Advancement Initiative for Nigeria (GAIN), recently carried out a poll which showed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s Popularity Rating had dropped from 63.4% in January to 32.8%.

However, in his Easter message, Buhari had assured Nigerians not to lose hope in his change mantra.

Stories

Police disrupts PDP meeting in Kebbi

From Ismail Adebayo, Birnin Kebbi

The police yesterday disrupted a meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders planned to hold at its secretariat in Birnin Kebbi.

The police said the meeting was stopped due to what it described as ‘security threat’ by thugs from the ruling All Progressives Congress APC in the state.

It was learnt that a team of mobile force, led by a DSP told the PDP chairman, Alhaji Musa Ibrahim Dan -Illela, that there was an instruction from Abuja that the meeting should be stopped because there was a plot to attack the PDP stalwarts at the meeting.

Reacting, the party chairman, Dan Illela described police alleged plot to attack the party members as baseless and unfounded. He stated that the party had since last week formally notified all security agencies, including the police of the meeting and permission was granted.

He added that “I wonder how after granting us permission the police could still come to disrupt the meeting and deprived us of our constitutional right of peaceful assembly and association”

Illela said he had contacted the APC chairman in the state, Alhaji Attahiru Maccido, on whether he was aware of the alleged threat by his party to attack members of the PDP.

“The PDP chairman denied any knowledge of such plot,” he said.

Kogi: Attah Igala, Amadu Ali drum supports for Bello

From Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja

The Attah Igala, Idakwo Michael Ameh Oboni II and former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Ahmadu Ali, have called on people of Kogi State to eschew ethnic sentiments and support Governor Yahaya Bello led government.

The duo made the call in their separate remarks on the occasion of the third anniversary of the Attah Igala, which held at the weekend in Idah, Kogi State.

The paramount ruler, who commended Governor Bello for his peaceful and detrabilised disposition, maintained that all the ethnic groupings in the state are from the same root.

“The presence of the Executive governor of my state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, here in our midst goes a long way to show his love, commitment and understanding of the various segments that make up the state. Within a short time, he has identified and tackled the endemic problems bedeviling the state with the rapidity of a general’s order,” he said.

On his part, Senator Ali urged the Igala people to support the administration of Yahaya Bello in order to bring even development to all parts of the state.

“Don’t go to war with Ebiras my children; power belongs to God and he chooses whom to give. It can be your turn tomorrow,” he said.

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