The decision of who becomes Nigeria's next president will be taken tomorrow by about 72 million persons who have so far collected their permanent voter's cards (PVCs).
According to data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a total of 72,775,502 million Nigerians have collected their PCVs and now qualify to cast their votes in tomorrow's polls to elect Nigeria's president for the next four years.
They will also be voting in their constituencies to elect legislators in the federal parliament, that is, the Senate and House of Representatives of the National Assembly.
LEADERSHIP Friday reports, however, that voter turnout in Nigeria's recent political history has not been stellar.
It was 43.65 percent in 2015, 53.7 percent in 2011, 57.47percnt in 2007, 69.1 percent in 2003 and 52.3 percent in 1999.
In the figures released by the Commission, out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos leads the chart of states with people having their PVCs with 5,531,389 million. Kano is second with 4,696, 747 million while Kaduna is third with 3,648,831 million.
Speaking at the fourth press conference held at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, since the postponement of the elections last week, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said a total of 72,775,502 million Nigerians collected their PCVs out of 84,004,084 million that registered.
On the total of 11,228,582 million PVCs yet to be collected, he said they had been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for distribution after the conclusion of the 2019 general elections.
He said: "At yesterday (Wednesday's) briefing, we promised to make public detailed information on collection of the Permanent Voter's Cards (PVCs) nationwide. The Commission has operated on the policy that no citizen can vote without the PVC issued by the Commission and read by the Smart Card Reader (SCR).
"The last date for the collection of PVCs was Monday, February 11, 2019. Out of 84,004,084 registered voters, the total number of PVCs collected stands at 72,775,502 million, which represents 86.63% of the total PVCs collected."
According to him, the detailed breakdown and percentages of collection on state-by-state basis had been published on the commission's website.
"A total of 11,228,582 PVCs representing 13.37% are uncollected. Out of this figure, 7,817,905 PVCs were carried over from the 2014-2016 registration exercises while 3,410,677 are from the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise held between April 2017 and August 2018," he added.
... 12 Presidential Candidates Endorse PMB
Just 48 hours to the general election, 12 other presidential candidates have thrown their weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari re-election bid.
The 12 candidates are members of the group, Forum of Presidential Candidates of Political Parties for Good Governance.
The special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, said the 12 members subordinated their own ambitions to that of President Buhari instead of running for the presidency tomorrow.
Adesina said the 12 presidential candidates have directed all their members and supporters to vote for President Buhari in the election.
The candidates and parties of those who endorsed Buhari yesterday are: Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), Shittu Mohammed Kabiru; Independent Democrats, Hon. Edozie Nnamdi Madu; Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy, Danjuma Mohammed; Allied Peoples Movement, Mamman Yusuf Naptali, and Save Nigeria Party, Ahmed Buhari,
Others are Mass Movement of Nigeria, Alhaji Isabi Dansaki; Advanced Congress of Democrats, Ikechukwu Nwokeafor; Yes Party, Alistar Shoyode; Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, Charles Ughalli; United Peoples Congress, Kenneth Ibe Kalu; Nigeria Element Progressives Party, Comrade Isiaka Paul Ebili and National Democratic Liberty Party, Robinson Apu.
"So these 12 former candidates declared support for Mr. President. Mr. President was quite delighted, he applauded their unselfish nature. He added that if they wanted to deny him vote, they would still continue with the elections and people in their immediate environment would vote for them and then deny him at least those votes.
"So, the fact that they have come to pledge loyalty and have directed their supporters to vote Mr. President was a thing that President Buhari quite applauded," Adesina said.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party chairman in Yobe State, Alhaji Sani Inuwa Nguru, has dumped the party for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He was led to the Presidential Villa by Dr. Mohammed Abuza, a chieftain or the party in Yobe State, and they received by President Buhari.
Nguru said he came to express his loyalty and desire to return home.
He noted that he was the first chairman of the APC after the merger in the state, adding that anyone who had been a member of All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) is a Buhari loyalist.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that the above-named parties were Buhari's former political parties on whose platforms he unsuccessfully ran for the president on three previous occasions before the merger of his CPC and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) into APC carried him to victory at the fourth attempt in 2015.
..FG reorders 48-hour Closure of land, sea borders
As part of efforts to ensure that aliens do not partake in the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly polls slated for tomorrow, the federal government has, again, ordered the shutdown of all land borders from noon on Friday to noon on Sunday.
This order was contained in a statement by the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, on behalf of the Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau.
The minister directed that all borders be effectively closed from 12pm today, February 22, to 12pm on Sunday February 24, 2019 .
The statement reads in part, "Further to the rescheduled presidential election taking place on the February 23, 2019, the Minister of Interior has again directed the closure of all Nigeria land borders with effect from 12pm of Friday to 12pm of Sunday February, 2019.
The statement explained that the move was to restrict movements across the borders during the election days, and urged the public to take note and ensure compliance.
... Police Pledge Adequate Security
The acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has assured Nigerians that adequate security measures had been put in place to ensure a safe and conducive environment towards achieving peaceful and credible 2019 elections.
Force spokesman, Frank Mba, said that the acting IGP gave this assurance in line with his avowed determination towards ensuring peaceful, credible and hitch-free presidential/National Assembly elections scheduled for tomorrow.
According to Mba, the police boss, therefore, calls on the citizens to come out enmasse on the day of the election to cast their votes without any fear or apprehension.
The IGP further reassured the citizens that security personnel deployed for the elections had been adequately trained and were under strict instruction to abide by the Standard Operational Procedures of the Force and international best practices in the conduct of an election.
"They will remain patriotic, steadfast, professional, neutral and civil, but firm in their conduct and actions throughout the period and beyond.
"The general public is therefore implored not to feel intimidated; rather they should be emboldened by the presence of security personnel deployed to their areas to go out and exercise their franchise.
"While calling on the public to cooperate with the security operatives, the IGP however warned those who may want to undermine the electoral process by engaging in snatching of ballot boxes, hate speech and vote trading to desist from such acts or face the full consequences of the law," he said.
... Be Ready To Accept Defeat, PDP Tells PMB
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has told President Muhammadu Buhari to be prepared to accept defeat if he loses the forthcoming election.
PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, who made this call at a press conference yesterday in Abuja, claimed that President Buhari had lost all his political strongholds across the country.
Ologbondiyan also described some presidential aspirants who endorsed President Buhari yesterday in Abuja as "a group manufactured overnight to swindle President Buhari."
Speaking on PDP's readiness for the election, the party spokesman said, "We want to urge President Buhari to be ready to accept defeat because he has lost all his strongholds in the states."
Ologbondiyan, who also "decried the attack on the Kwankwasiya movement in Kano State" yesterday, also said that the PDP supported the prosecution of ballot box snatchers and warned the military against accidental discharge.
On his part, the national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, noted that President Buhari issued the shoot at sight order because he had a motive of scaring voters and observers away so that the election could be manipulated in his favour.
"When the president threatened the Commission with probe after election, the intention was to frighten and cow them into playing along in the APC agenda.
"When they harass, arrest and block bank accounts of the opposition stakeholders, what they want is to win at all costs.
"When they drag military institutions into politics, the aim is obvious to destroy that institution the way it's doing to the legislature and the Judiciary.
"But I urge you Nigerians to refuse to be intimidated or provoked but remain focused and fix your eyes on the ball, which is the victory coming on Sunday," Secondus stated.
On his part, former minister of Aviation and chairman of the strategy committee, PDP Presidential Campaign, Osita Chidoka, said the party had deployed a Simultaneous Vote Cowunt system ahead of the election.
He also called on "the military, the police, and all other security agents to do their patriotic duty to the citizens of this great country, hold true to their legal mandate, display their commitment to the rule of law, act with restraint and in accordance to the law.
"Regardless of party, our security forces serve and protect Nigeria and her citizens first.
"The government of Atiku Abubakar will be guided by the rule of law, respect for human rights and embrace differences in opinion and approach. Our priority will be to unify the country and heal the divisions sowed over the past four years."
... PMB'll Concede Defeat - APC
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) has said that President Muhammadu Buhari will follow in the footsteps of former President Goodluck Jonathan and congratulate whoever emerges winner in a free, fair and credible presidential election tomorrow.
It, however, expressed confidence that the president would win the election.
The deputy director-general of PCC, Arc. Waziri Bulama, who stated this yesterday, however, said that the Campaign Council had carried out an extensive campaign and there was no way the APC would lose the election, adding that Nigerians would keep fate with the president and with APC in this election.
Asked what would be the reaction of the president should he lose, Bulama said, "The outcome of this election, if free, fair and credible would be accepted by President Muhammad Buhari and by the party.
"If we win, which is very, very likely, we will congratulate Nigerians for having participated in a free, fair and peaceful election. That is number one. Number two, we are not even going to celebrate or over-elebrate because an election success of President Muhammadu Buhari is another burden on him and this man would want to do more than he has done.
"So, we will humbly thank Nigerians for giving us their votes for another four years to build on what we have done. But in the event Nigerians decided, in a free, fair and credible election to give their votes to another person, President Muhammadu Buhari will still thank Nigerians and will call the person that eventually won the election and congratulate him."
Assessing the campaign run by the Campaign Council, Bulama said, "You know, Nigeria is a very great and vast country - nearly 200 million people.
"In this campaign, we have done our very best to reach out to all Nigerians to mobilise, to energise, to sensitise them to come out and participate in the elections.
"We have carried out an issue-based campaign. We have carried out a decent and respectful campaign. We have reached out to all Nigerians within the time of campaigns. All our leaders from the President to the vice president, governor's, senators and their wives were all involved."
Pray For Peace, Success Of General Elections, APC Urge Nigerians
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on Nigerians, party members and supporters to pray for peace and the success of the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
In a statement by the APC national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party cautioned all Nigerians and APC members not to be involved in any act of electoral malpractice and irregularity.
Issa-Onilu: "We should stay safe and work collectively to ensure that the general elections are free, fair, transparent and credible.
"Security agencies have been given the marching orders to bring the full weight of our laws to bear on anyone that perpetrates violence or electoral offence no matter how highly placed.
"We encourage our members to come out to vote and protect the ballots. Our great party has enough support nationwide to win with a landslide. We must now work to ensure that the election is decided by one man one vote, which guarantees our victory."