Vanguard (Lagos)

9 May 2003

Nigeria: The court shall prove us right - Alkali, defeated Jigawa PDP

ALHAJI Muhammad Alkali who contested the governorship seat in Jigawa State has maintained that the ANPP heavily rigged the election to deny him a well deserved victory. He has vowed that he would not relent in challenging the results of the gubernatorial election in the state until 'justice is seen to be done'. He is among those expected to file their case at the tribunal ...Habib Yakoob spoke with him at the PDP secretariat, Abuja.

You were defeated at the gubernatorial election in Jigawa State...

No, please, I was not defeated, do not use that word. One could only be defeated if there was an election.-a free and fair elections for that matter. But what we had in Jigawa State was not an election- there was no contest either; but a superimposition of one person using, this time around, the state machinery to perpetuate himself in power. To be specific, the election in the state was fraught with high level irregularities; there were rampant riggings. Therefore whatever was declared as the result of that election; and whoever was declared as the winner of that election could not have been valid.

In what specific ways were the election rigged?

We have concluded arrangements to take our case to the constituted authority and contest the validity of the election results. And we shall put before it all our facts.

But you alleged rigging, tell us where and how this took place.

You are not a law court; you are a journalist, so you can find that out yourself.

What makes you confident that you would have won the election under a free and fair contest?

Yes, as I have always said there was no way the PDP would have lost under a free and fair contest. Look at the state for instance, it is largely PDP- in the sense that in 1999 when we contested we won about 18 of the 27 local government areas then. And out of this number, 10 were from my senatorial zone where the incumbent governor comes from. Then he won only 2. And since this administration came into power the people of the state have become more indifferent to his administration. The governor was becoming more and more unpopular, which explains why under a free and fair election we would have carted away the votes we had in 1999 and also many other ones in the state. Besides we had mounted serious campaign in virtually all the local government areas of the state, and the people of the state were genuinely thrilled about our programmes and philosophy. Again, take a look at the large sum of money- over N40 billion pushed by this administration to the government of Jigawa State and what you have is nothing on the ground. These people are not ignorant of all these facts, so how do you imagine that same government that has been so useless to them now having their whole votes? The only sure and realistic factor here is that of rigging. And do you know that all the time we were busy campaigning, he (Turaki) was busy doing something else. He never actually campaigned.

Surprisingly, the people of the state who you claimed did not actually give the incumbent governor their votes are not protesting; they seem to have taken the result in good faith.

Yes, if you know my people very well, you will believe that they are not likely to engage in something like a violent protest in asking for their rights. They are particularly very peaceful people. But then, the fact that you do not see them in wild protest does not explain that they have accepted the results in good faith. Among them actually are those who are highly uncomfortable and could do anything too. By and large we have been trying to calm them down, preaching to them the gospel of learning not to take the law into their own hands. And they have been listening. For us we believe in the supremacy of justice and we are going to pursue this case until justice is seen to be effectively done.

In the 1999 gubernatorial election, Alhaji Sule Lamido of the PDP protested the results of that election, claiming it was rigged by Governor Ibrahim Saminu Turaki.Here you are, also of the PDP claiming the elections were rigged by the same person accused four years ago. What is actually wrong...?

There is something wrong actually. And it has to do with the inordinate desire of a governor to lead a people who do not like him, at all cost. What you hear me saying is not fundamentally different from what obtained in 1999.If there is any difference it is in the degree that these irregularities we are talking about was carried out. Then a governor wanted to taste power at all cost, for the first time; and he did anything to get it. Now he has tasted power, seen what it means and wanted reelection at all cost, to the extent that any opposition in the name of PDP was intimidated and cheated out. The difference is not much.

And are you sure you won't have the same rigging thing you are alleging repeated in the Saturday State Assembly elections?

Honestly we should be disturbed about that. You can be sure in any case that a government desperate to remain in power could do anything to stay, and the Saturday election may not be different. But we don't have to relent; we have been carrying out a campaign asking our people not to allow themselves to be used for this kind of perfidy any longer. Our hope is in God. I do not think the PDP in Jigawa really believes in rigging itself to power. We always cash in on the goodwill of the people of the state. And if the level of illegality we had during that voting repeats itself in subsequent elections, we shall not relent in asking the court to take control.

What happens if the court throws this case of yours away for want of evidence?

There is an Appeal Court, isn't there? If we lose, we appeal. As I said earlier, we shall pursue the case to its logical conclusion. If we genuinely lose, we resign to fate. We shall not leave any stone unturned in the quest for justice. But the court shall prove us right.

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