By Eseoghene Emuke
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday congratulated presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on his victory and declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the Saturday’s presidential elections.
Buhari, in a statement in reaction to the pronouncement of Tinubu as president-elect by INEC, urged political parties aggrieved with the exercise to lawfully challenge the outcome of the election in the court and not “on the streets.”
Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor, was declared the president-elect after the 70-year-old polled 8,794,726 votes to win the 2023 presidential election.
The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, announced Tinubu as the winner at the International Collation Centre in Abuja during the early hours of Wednesday.
Yakubu said Tinubu polled a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival, Atiku Abubakar, who polled 6,984,520 votes while Peter Obi of Labour Party, secured 6,101,533, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of New Nigerian Peoples Party trailed with 1,496,687.
But President Buhari, while hailing the elections, described the President-elect as the “best person for the job”.
According to him, “I congratulate His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his victory. Elected by the people, he is the best person for the job. I shall now work with him and his team to ensure an orderly handover of power.”
“The election was Africa’s largest democratic exercise. In a region that has undergone backsliding and military coups in recent years, this election demonstrates democracy’s continued relevance and capability to deliver for the people it serves.
“Within Nigeria, the results reveal democracy’s ripening in our country. Never has the electoral map shifted so drastically in one cycle. In the presidential elections, states in all regions across the nation changed colour. Some amongst you may have noticed my home state amongst them. The winning candidate did not carry his own home state either. That happens during a competitive election. Votes and those that cast them cannot be taken for granted. Each must be earned. Competition is good for our democracy. There is no doubt the people’s decision has been rendered in the results we look at today.
“That is not to say the exercise was without fault. For instance, there were technical problems with electronic transmission of the results. Of course, there will be areas that need work to bring further transparency and credibility to the voting procedure. However, none of the issues registered represent a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections.
“I know some politicians and candidates may not agree with this view. That too is fine. If any candidate believes they can prove the fraud they claim is committed against them, then bring forward the evidence. If they cannot, then we must conclude that the election was indeed the people’s will – no matter how hard that may be for the losers to accept. If they feel the need to challenge, please take it to the courts, not to the streets.
“However, to do the latter means they are not doing it in the interest of the people, but rather to inflame, to put people in harm’s way and all for personal, selfish gains.
“After a degree of polarization that necessarily accompanies any election, it is now time to come together and act responsibly. I call on all candidates to remember the peace pledge they signed just days before the election. Do not undermine the credibility of INEC. Let us now move forward as one. The people have spoken.”
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