By Ifeanyi Ottah
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) General Muhammadu Buhari was Sunday evening sustaining his lead over his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the declared results of the presidential elections released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC).
More than two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states have declared returns in the vote pitting Jonathan against former military ruler Buhari in the closest election ever in Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy.
The opposition leader, making his fourth run at the presidency, has been buoyed by frustration over endemic corruption, criticism over Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram insurgency and a stronger opposition.
The 72-year-old won in almost all the northern states dominated by the mainly Muslim, Hausa-Fulani ethnic group of which he is a member.
Jonathan won in all the southern, oil-producing Niger Delta, taking 98.4 percent in his home state of Bayelsa and 94.9 percent in neighbouring Rivers, where results were disputed by the opposition.
Recall that Buhari had on Monday, polled 8,520,436 votes in 10 States while his Peoples Democratic Party counterpart and incumbent President Jonathan had 6,488,210 votes.
The Daura, Katsina State-born former Head of State won 10 of the States and Jonathan, eight plus the FCT. The States cleared by Buhari are Kaduna, Kwara, Katsina, Kano Jigawa, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Kogi and Ogun……
President Jonathan captured Abia, Anambra, Nassarawa, Enugu, Ekiti, Akwa-Ibom, Imo, Plateau and FCT.
In the South-West States, Buhari won in Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun But lost in Ekiti where he garnered 120,331 votes Jonathan polled 176,466 votes in the PDP controlled state.
Buhari polled 299,889 votes in Ondo, 3,083,290 in Ogun, 528,630 in Oyo and 383,603 in Ogun while Jonathan had 251,368; 207,950, 303,376; 249,929 respectively.
Expectedly, the President held sway in the South-East by scoring in Abia, 368,303 votes; Anambra 660,762; Enugu, 553,003, Ebonyi, 323,653 and Imo, 559,185.
Buhari had 13,394 votes in Abia State; 17,926 in Anambra, 14,157 in Enugu 19,518 in Ebonyi and 133,253 in Imo.
In Akwa Ibom, Jonathan had 953,304 votes against Buhari’s 58,411.
Jonathan also had the upper hand in the FCT where he garnered 157,195 votes ahead of Buhari’s 146,399.
In Kwara State, the former Head of State recorded 302,146 votes; 1,127,760 in Kaduna; 1,345,441 in his home State of Katsina; 885,988 in Jigawa; I,903,999 in Kano; 236,838 in Nasarawa; 264,851 in Kogi and 429,140 in Plaleau.
Jonathan had 132,602 in Kwara; 848,085 in Kaduna, 98,937 in Katsina; 142,904 in Jigawa; 215,779 in Kano; 273,406 in Nasarawa; 149,987 in Kogi; and 549,615 in Plateau.
Consequently, Saturday’s election was the fourth time Buhari was taking a shot at the Presidency. In 2003 and 2007, he flew the flag of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party and in 2011, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
The APC swept the three seats in Kogi, Oyo, Lagos, Kwara, Kebbi and Sokoto. The PDP, however, won in Abia, Imo and Ebonyi.
But the win in Lagos by APC in the southwest was a boom for Buhari, with the state seen as a key battleground and countrywide support essential for a win.
There was a brief protest by Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday before the count resumed, with former Niger Delta minister Godsday Orubebe accusing the INEC chairman Professor Attahiru Jega of being “partial” and “selective”.
Orubebe claimed Jega had refused to investigate PDP complaints about big wins by Buhari in northern states but had launched a probe into claims by Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) of irregularities in Rivers.
But in his reaction, Jega said later: “I don’t believe that the allegations are substantial enough to require the cancellation or rescheduling of the elections in Rivers state. We will take the results.”
President Jonathan has, however, protested results declared from Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Katsina and Kogi States, alleging malpractices.
Jonathan’s protest articulated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was, however, followed by another statement late last night in which it claimed it was not perturbed by the results from the North-West, stronghold of Buhari.
Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, APC, has also protested the results submitted from Rivers State on the basis that there was no election in the state.
Addressing journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, gave the seven states the party has petitioned INEC for the cancellation of the polls to include Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Katsina and Kogi States.
Also yesterday, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, PDPPCO, reiterated its claim that its candidate, President Jonathan, was winning the presidential election.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Director, Media and Publicity of PDPPCO, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode threatened that any attempt to manipulate figures or rig out the PDP from any quarter would be firmly resisted.
Fani- Kayode said: “We wish to take this opportunity to make it clear to the Nigerian public that according to the figures made available to us, we are ahead in the presidential elections by at least two to three million votes.
“We have our own Situation Room and we have collated all our figures from the various polling booths, wards, local government areas and states in the federation.
“Despite the propaganda of the opposition, we are confident of victory. They and all other stakeholders can be rest assured that we will accept nothing less than the announcement of an election result that is truthful and that reflects the true will of the Nigerian people.
“Any attempt to manipulate figures or to rig us out from any quarter will be firmly resisted.”
However, International observers gave broadly positive reactions to the conduct of the election, despite late delivery of election materials and technical glitches with new voter authentication devices.
Nigeria’s Transition Monitoring Group, which had observers across the country, said: “These issues did not systematically disadvantage any candidate or party.”
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Election Observation Mission (EOM) described the Nigerian elections as free and transparent despite some incidents and logistical challenges.
This is contained in its preliminary report after the regional bloc deployed a 250-member mission of long-term and short-term observers headed by former Ghanaian President John Kufuor.
According to the five-page preliminary report the “shortcomings” require remedial action by the authorities to further enhance the credibility of the electoral process.
“Notwithstanding these shortcomings, the organization of the election can be considered as generally acceptable,” the Mission said in the 22-point Declaration
The regional body highlighted card reader malfunctioning in some polling stations, especially in the finger print identification of voters resulting in the resort to the use of manual accreditation of voters, insufficient and non-availability of electoral material like ballot papers, indelible ink and incident forms in some polling stations, late arrival of electoral officials and material and delay in the voting process as some of the challenges.
“The Mission regrets the violent incidents that occurred during the electoral process in some parts of the country which in some cases led to the loss of lives and expressed its condolences to members of the families of those who lost their lives.”
It commended the enthusiasm, maturity, patience and sense of civic responsibility demonstrated by the electorate, and expressed the hope that the same spirit of respect for order and discipline will characterize the rest of the electoral process.
It noted the generally high voter turnout, with voters displaying commendable level of patience, discipline and organization and laudable participation of women and young people, and urged voters to maintain their high sense of responsibility and tolerance.
The PDP and the APC on Sunday traded allegations of vote rigging and other irregularities, raising the possibility of a legal challenge to the results.
Violence has often flared in previous Nigerian elections after the winner is announced and the United States and Britain warned against any “interference” with the count.
“So far, we have seen no evidence of systemic manipulation of the process,” US Secretary of State John Kerry and British foreign minister Philip Hammond said in a joint statement Monday.
“But there are disturbing indications that the collation process — where the votes are finally counted — may be subject to deliberate political interference.”
Some 2,000 women protesting against the conduct of the elections were teargassed Monday as they tried to converge on the local electoral commission offices in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt.
The protest over alleged vote rigging by the PDP — and a counter-protest demanding the results hold — forced the Rivers state government to impose an overnight curfew.
The winning presidential candidate needs not just the most votes but at least 25 percent support in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to avoid a run-off.
Voting was pushed into an unscheduled second day Sunday after failures in controversial new technology designed to read biometric identity cards to combat electoral fraud.