Nigeria: Despite Widespread Violence, Deaths, Presidency Says Buhari Should Be Commended for Kogi, Bayelsa Elections

19 November 2019

In a major reaction to the controversy that trailed the conduct of the weekend polls in Kogi and Bayelsa State, the presidency has said it should be commended rather than vilified by Nigerians as it did its best to provide a conducive ground for the elections.

The APC led government also took buck shots at the opposition PDP, saying "our rivals and their hate machine are unable to digest that APC won in Kogi and especially, Bayelsa states".

Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari's spokesperson said this in an apparent reaction to a report by CDD, a pro democracy think tank, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to provide leadership to save Nigeria's electoral process from collapsing.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported the CDD director, Idayat Hassan, warning that "the very foundation of Nigeria's two decade old democracy was facing serious challenges", urging President Buhari provide the needed leadership to stem the tide.

Mr Shehu could not immediately respond to the group's claims. But in a statement emailed to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday night, he defended Mr Buhari.

"For a fact, elections taking place in all areas, using PVC and card readers against uncommon odds is itself an achievement to this administration."

"What is happening is that our rivals and their hate machine are unable to digest that APC won in Kogi and especially, Bayelsa. We lost five governorships in February and for them, that was a "good " election.

"The government accepted the results. We went back to the drawing boards, worked hard and won, they now say that it is a bad election. Who doesn't understand the game in town?

"Elections in the two states have historically been combative. In many places, they thumb-printed ballots, stuffed ballot boxes and wrote the results.

"The fact that under this administration, you have elections taking place in all areas, using PVC and card reader and against uncommon and Herculean odds is itself an achievement. We will continue to get better.

The police, other security agencies and INEC deserve commendation," he said.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted both elections on Saturday, which had the ruling APC candidates emerging winners in both states.

Cases of widespread violence and electoral fraud, as reported by the press and independent observers marred the exercise in both states. At least two prominent observer groups, YIAGA and Situation Room, have called for the outright cancellation of the Kogi elections. YIAGA in its report on the Bayelsa election. Also said the announced results were tampered with and did not reflect the wish of the voters.

In its report, the CDD said it recorded at least 10 deaths during the electoral violence in both states.

INEC has announced David Lyon of the APC as the winner of the election in Bayelsa.

Mr Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 143, 172 votes.

Governor Yahaya Bello of APC was also announced winner having scored 406,222 votes to defeat his rival and PDP candidate, Musa Wada, who scored 189,704 votes in the election.

Angry opposition

Both opposition candidates have rejected the results.

Mr Diri in a press conference said based on the results from polling units and wards, "PDP was heading to victory especially in Ogbia Local Government Area until men of the Nigerian Army allegedly chased away their agents and supporters and changed the results," Dailytrust reported.

His counterpart, Mr Wada, described the election as "murder of democracy" and vowed that he would approach the election petition tribunal to recover his 'stolen mandate'.

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