The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has asked Nigerians not to accept the outcome of a rigged election as the will of God.
He said the problem of Nigerians over the years was accepting what was wrong and unacceptable as God’s wish for the country.
Obi spoke on a day the legal team of the Labour Party, LP, met with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to inspect materials used for the February 25 presidential poll.
This is even as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured the legal team of the Labour Party LP of the commission’s readiness to provide all documents with the party requested to prosecute its case at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Obi, who spoke when he appeared as a guest at Arise Television Morning Show interview programme yesterday, spoke in response to the position of some Nigerians who argued that the outcome of the February 25, 2023, presidential election, should be seen and accepted as the will of God.
The LP candidate noted that God doesn’t wish bad things for His people, stressing that bad things in the country were what the Obedient Movement was trying to change.
He said: “The problem of Nigeria is accepting what is unacceptable. That’s not God’s wish. God’s wish is when you do the right thing. Is it God’s wish that we remain poor as a country, despite it’s abundant blessings on us?”
Obi said Nigeria had remained decadent in a continuous state of moral decline
because Nigerians kept accepting what was wrong and dragging God into it.
He, however, noted that the Obidient Movement which he symbolized, was in the system to change things and create an egalitarian society.
The former Anambra State governor said it was disheartening that after 63 years as a nation, Nigeria remained unable to conduct an election that met the minimum acceptable standard.
He described the February 25 presidential election as the worst in Nigeria’s history, considering that the Electoral Law of 2022 was enacted to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
Obi said while he was pursuing his mandate through legal and peaceful means, it was disheartening that rule of law was being treated with levity by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which is a public institution, maintained by taxpayer’s money.
He equally explained that there was nothing personal about his decision to challenge the abuse of the process during the last election and didn’t hope to back out until the right thing was done.
According to him, doing and accepting the wrong thing is what had kept Nigeria down since independence.
I don’t ve issues with Tinubu, I ‘m only challenging process that declared him winner — Obi
Speaking further, Obi said: “It is a world of sadness that 63 years after Nigeria’s independence, we cannot conduct a simple election despite all the promises. In India, which is the world’s biggest democracy with over 900 million registered voters, in their last election, 67 per cent participated, which is over 600 million. That is 25 times our size.
“My appeal to Nigerians is to remain calm and prayerful. We have no other country except Nigeria. And we will go through all legal means to get back to Nigeria. Like I told people, I am not challenging who they declared or the outcome. I am challenging the process at which they arrived at their declaration. And unless we do that, we are not going to stop the rascality we witnessed in that election. The process through which people come into office is far more important than what they do thereafter.
“I will also say I contested the election and I didn’t contest the election for anybody to win. The declared winner did not win. He may have been declared by whatever means, but to win, is to win the people. If democracy means the government of the people, by the people and for the people, that means if you must win, you must win the people. If you don’t win the people, you have not won.
‘’Because Nigeria’s politics has been largely transactional when we were starting this, people didn’t believe what we were about to do.
“The consequence is that we didn’t have candidates for the governorship in states because being a transitional thing, people like being where things are being shared. So, nobody believed that a party without a local government councillor, chairman, etc, can come up become something. So we didn’t have candidates in most places.
‘’In a few places, we have two first-class candidates and I support them and I asked the Obidient family to support them because they will do good work. For me, it is about having competent, credible people with proven track records that can do well. With time we will build this institution to ensure that everything we are doing is the right thing.’’
Asked if Tinubu had called him, he said: “The APC presidential candidate is an elder brother, I can even call him my father and I have all respect for him but I have not been opportune to speak with him.
‘’I don’t have any issue with him. I respect him and I will continue to do so. I am only challenging the process through which he was declared the winner because that process is wrong, and must be corrected.
‘’I believe things must be done rightly, we must follow the rule of law, we must have a society where things are done in decent and organised manner especially as we try to build a new nation and the world will take us seriously and respect us.
Pitting Yoruba against Igbo in Lagos
“Secondly, what you see as ethnic strife is people hiding to cause confusion. The votes I got in Lagos cut across everybody in Lagos, from Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Ijaw and all the tribes that reside in Lagos.
‘’I know lots of people that are pure Yoruba that are supporting me. In 2003, Obasanjo got over 90 per cent votes in the entire South-East despite the fact that our own revered leader Odumegwu-Ojukwu was contesting. He failed in Yorubaland but we gave him more votes in the South-East. In 2011, Jonathan got more votes in the South-East than he got in the South-South.”
On insinuations about him from aides speaking for their principals, Obi said since these aides were not on the ballot, he would prefer to speak when those he contested with speak, but noted that the 97 per cent votes he got in Anambra state shouldn’t disturb anybody because he was expecting 100% votes, since the people knew him and believed in him.
He said: “They forgot that I got over 95% in Anambra State in 2019 when I was a running mate. In 2023, I was the main candidate, I am even surprised that I did not get 100%”
On the claim of some persons that he took away PDP votes and helped Bola Tinubu to win, Obi said he was not contesting to help anybody but to win and that by records, Nigerians made that happened, despite the abracadabra by the INEC.
He also clarified his support for Labour Party governorship candidates in some states, saying he is in support of LP ticket holders in Enugu, Abia, Lagos, and Plateau states among others 100%, and directed his supporters to vote for them.
On the ethnic tension in Lagos State over his victory on the February 25 poll, ahead of the governorship election, Obi said it is not ethnic, wondering why some mischievous persons are trying to create such an impression.
He pointed out that many more non-Igbos and Yorubas who shared the aspiration for a new Nigeria voted for him.
Obi explained that even if Igbos voted for him, this was not the first time they are voting for people, they had voted massively like this for Olusegun Obasanjo, even when he lost an election in his region and they also gave Jonathan more votes than South-South states and all these brouhahas did not happen.
On the possible partnership with the PDP, Obi said there was nothing like that but noted that “we are challenging a process that is wrong created by INEC to serve a particular purpose”.
LP’s legal team meets INEC over the inspection of election materials
Also yesterday, the legal team of the Labour Party, LP, met with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to inspect materials used for the February 25 presidential poll.
Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, head of the legal team, led 60 lawyers to the meeting which took place at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
On March 1, INEC declared Bola Tinubu, candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the presidential election but Peter Obi, the LP standard bearer, subsequently challenged the result in court, alleging irregularities by the electoral commission.
Consequently, the court of appeal granted leave to Obi to have access to all the sensitive materials used by INEC for the election.
But on Saturday, the LP accused INEC of not allowing Obi’s lawyers access to the materials, despite the court ruling.
Speaking in a chat with Arise TV yesterday, Obi said he was not interested in challenging the “outcome” of the election but in the process leading to the declaration of Tinubu as the president-elect.
He said INEC, as a public institution, should always submit itself to scrutiny from Nigerians.
The controversy over the inspection of election materials, especially the bimodal voter accreditation system, BVAS, contributed to the postponement of the governorship and State Assembly elections to March 18.
We’ve nothing to hide, INEC Chair assures LP team
Receiving the Labour Party’s legal team, the Chairman of, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured the legal team of the Commission’s readiness to provide all documents with the party requested to prosecute its case at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Addressing the team, Yakubu said the commission would also meet with its Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, in the states to work out modalities for the inspection of materials in the states.
“We received a letter from Uzoukwu, SAN, on behalf of the Labour Party. The letter is dated March 6.
“I want to assure you that the commission will not hide any document from anybody and will make available any document that they have requested.
“There are two categories of documents; those that are in possession of the headquarters of INEC, we will easily make these documents available to you. Specifically, the EC8A from the states and the EC8D, which is the collation at the national collection centre by the commission itself.
“The EC8A, the declaration, so many, a total of, I think 39 documents, this we can easily certify and give you almost immediately. As for other documents that you are asking for, they are at state levels.
‘’So, we need to work out the schedule so that we know when your team is going to which state and on which date so that we can easily facilitate not just the certification of documents, but also the inspection that you requested for each of these documents.
“The other one is accreditation data from the back end. This will also be made available to you. Remember that the accreditation data covers over 176,000 polling units. We have to print them, physically certify them, and give them to you.
‘’So, the tall and short of what I am saying is that you will get these documents speedily. They will also make arrangements and notify our Resident Electoral Commissioners of your intended visit so that these documents will be made available to you, those that are at the level, including access to the inspection of any category of materials.
“So, I crave your indulgence to suggest that let your team interface with the legal team of the commission immediately. So you work these things out and then we make all the documents available to you.
‘’But please be assured, the lead counsel, that INEC has nothing to hide. Whatever you are asking for will be made available to you.
“Now, the meeting will be between our technical people and you will just work things out. Whatever we need to facilitate as a commission so that you get these documents that you require as a matter of urgency, I want to assure you that you will get them as a matter of urgency. so thank you so much.
‘’Whatever, let me reassure you again, whatever you require for the prosecution, we will make this information available.”
In an interview after the meeting, Dr Uzoukwu said the team was at the commission because it had not received any electoral stocks for inspection on behalf of his clients.
“As you all know, an election petition is time sensitive. We have 21 days to file a petition on behalf of our clients. Out of that 21 days, we probably have about 10 days to go and up till now we have not received any documents.
“We have written to INEC requesting documents apart from that, the Court of Appeal made an order on March 3, to INEC to release those documents to us but we haven’t received any, hence we requested for a meeting with the chairman of the commission.
“He graciously granted that audience within a very short notice, and he has given us assurance, concrete assurance on record that all documents we require will be made available and if possible, some of them will be made available to us today (yesterday).
“We believe that that will happen and we are leaving here rest assured that by the time we leave INEC premises at least, we will leave with some documents, the rest can then come from tomorrow and so on and so forth.
“We are very much bothered and I made that point when we met with the chairman that not only that our clients are bothered and agitated but also we members of the legal council are bothered, members of Labour Party are bothered, their supporters are bothered and restive.
“In fact, it has taken a lot to calm them down to exercise patience that we are going to get the documents because the court of the land has ordered the documents to be given to us. Well, some documents will come from the state level but we do not think it will take an eternity for those documents to come.
‘’Meanwhile, there are those that are domiciled here at the headquarters. Those ones we can go away with today (yesterday).
Asked what would be his team’s next line of action, if all the needed documents were not made available, the LP’s lead counsel said: “That would be a national calamity. Why do I say that? Not making the documents available will create the impression that INEC is deliberately frustrating us.
‘’That is just the impression it will create, to make sure we cannot prosecute this petition. But listening to the chairman a short while ago and all assurances, I want to give him or we want to give him the benefit of the doubt that we will get some of them today.
“At least if we get some of them today, that is indicative that we’ll get some other documents from tomorrow, next tomorrow to enable us to file this petition. Having said that, the way and manner, the chairman spoke, I am confident that he will keep to his words.”