ALL Progressives Congress (APC) members in Sokoto, Kano, Adamawa, Plateau and Benue states got a piece of “candid” advice from the Presidency yesterday.
They should prepare hard for the makeup polls in their states. Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity Garba Shehu foreclosed the possibility of manipulating the process to favour any party in a statement he issued in Abuja.
The Presidency has cautioned against a lot of the hate spewing, incitement to violence and the polarising statements by political leaders as some states brace for supplementary elections prescribed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Party members in states where there will be supplementary elections then need to be reminded that they need to work hard to earn their people’s votes, rather than expect President Buhari to manipulate INEC in their favour The statement reads,” the statement said.
To the presidential spokesman, it is strange that the President has been at the receiving ends from the ruling APC and the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the elections started with the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23.
According to him, the President will remain neutral throughout the electoral process.
He said: “Interestingly, while members of the ruling APC party were criticising the President for not interfering on their behalf, members of the opposition were condemning the President based on their assumptions that he would definitely interfere, as many in the opposition did while in power.
“Under President Buhari, INEC has been and will be completely independent throughout the elections, free from any interference.
“President Buhari is a man of conviction, and the manipulation of election results goes against everything he stands for. INEC is completely in charge.”
Shehu described as unfair and ridiculous criticisms of President Buhari’s apparent disinterest in the upcoming elections in some states by party members who wrongfully assume that the President will abuse power by changing results to favour them.
The senior special assistant described as a wrong notion to think that Buhari would meddle in the March 23 supplementary election ordered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) because some of his predecessors interfered in inconclusive elections.
“This”, he said, “was the reason party members appeared to be upset that the same thing is not happening now.”
He added: “But President Buhari is a different kind of leader. He swore to defend the constitution and will not veer off from that.
“The constitution of Nigeria gives the President no such powers. It is unfair and ridiculous to criticise President Buhari for not going against the constitution.”
Candidates of the ruling party are participating in the supplementary polls in the five states where INEC declared the March 9 elections inconclusive, fixing March 23 for a make-up exercise.
Three of the candidates are incumbent. They are governors Jibrilla Bindow (Adamawa); Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Umar Ganduje (Kano).
The others – Alh. Ahmad Aliyu Sokoto (Sokoto) and Emmanuel Jime (Benue) – are challenging Aminu Tambuwal and Samuel Ortom, who defected from the ruling party into the PDP.
In Sokoto, incumbent Tambuwal, who scored 489, 588, is leading with 3,413 votes. He will be slugging it out with APC’s candidate for 75,493 votes in 136 polling units in 22 local government areas. The APC candidate is trailing with 486, 145 votes.
Before the process was declared inconclusive in Adamawa, the PDP, with 367,471 votes as against APC’s 334,995, was leading by 32,476 votes. The candidates of the two parties have 40,998 votes to fight for on March 23.
Ortom of the PDP, who got 410, 576, was ahead in Benue with 81,554 votes. He will be slugging it out with Jime for 121, 011 votes. Jime got 329, 022 at the close of the first ballot.
In Plateau, Lalong of the APC got 583, 255 to lead Senator Jeremiah Useni of the PDP with 44,929 votes. Useni got 538, 326. The duo will be fighting for the outstanding 49,377 votes.
There are 100, 873 votes to decide who wins the election in Kano State. The PDP, with 1,014,474 votes, is leading the APC, which got 987, 810, with 26,664 votes.
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