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Presidential election: Peter Obi opens up

...How we were rigged out

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…Says APC govt’s integrity under question


Mr. Peter Obi, running mate to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the just concluded elections, tells The Nigerian Xpress duo of STEVE NWOSU and ROSE MOSES why he believes the election in which the ruling APC was declared winner, was massively rigged. He gave instance of Yobe State, where, due to serious security issues, the governor of the state with all the security apparatus at his disposal could not go out on the day of election to vote. Yet the state ‘manufactured’ over 600, 000 votes.


In few words, what do you think happened in the presidential election, how did PDP end up losing it?

Well, the election was rigged. You could see it is a clear manipulation of people’s lawful votes. Let me give you an instance. In Yobe, the governor could not vote because of insecurity. With all his sophistication or his armoured vehicle or his security, he could not go to vote.

But somewhere along the line, Yobe produced over 600, 000 votes. Six hundred thousand people that have more commitment, secured than the governor to go and vote? Those votes were manufactured. The same thing happened in Borno. You can go on and on.

While with peace in the South-East, South-West, they did everything to suppress the votes by insisting that we can only vote by card reader and made sure that the card readers were insufficient and many malfunctioned.

And even where I voted, it was very slow; I mean the one that was functioning. And I complained about that immediately I voted without knowing what the end would be.

So, now in the North, they were voting without card reader when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman had consistently insisted that any vote that did not go through card reader was void. We allowed it.

So, where do you think the large numbers of people that queued up to vote in the North were coming from? Do you believe the allegation that they were from neighbouring countries?

It’s not just the question of people coming from neighbouring countries; it’s a question of yes… most of those people you see are just people whom I will say are round tripping themselves.

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How about the issue of child voters, because all over social media, we saw very young children, some even less than a year old being guided to vote….?

Well, I won’t go by social media. What we are saying is that if they were accredited…what we are saying is, let’s see the accreditation of those votes that came out of the North.

Do you think that the shenanigans that played out with the election have anything to do with why the president refused to sign the amended Electoral Act?

Well, your guess is as good as mine in that particular one. But let me tell you, the worst thing a country can go through is election rigging. It is the worst. The process through which people come into office is far more fundamental than what they do in office.

And the question is integrity of the entire exercise. If you say that you are coming to serve the people faithfully and you are a person of integrity and you are going to do the right thing in office and the process through which you come into office is faulty, you put the entire integrity into question.

That’s why when the late President Umaru Yar’Adua came, he recognised the fact that the process that brought him into office was faulty and that he was going to correct it. So, I urge that we stop rigging.

Well, I believe that it is important to the president that should happen. It is important to him that even the present situation is corrected because his entire person and the only thing he is offering is that he is a person of integrity. So, that is on test now.

Talking on integrity and the election itself, what is your take on what happened in the South-South, particularly Rivers and Bayelsa?

I have said it very often that it is very unfortunate that South-South, which is the greatest source of our revenue; that is actually the… you can call it the mother of our revenue generation, is being brutalised the way it is today. What is happening in South-South is very unfortunate. It’s been turned into a war front.

What the people want is to have a free and fair election. So, for government to allow what is happening there to happen is very unfortunate for the future of our country.

And then the South-East, what is the takeaway point for the South-East from this election?

For me, the South-East needs to re-examine itself and be able to look at their leadership. I believe….we came out of this fine, but there is need to … our own internal reorganisation and look into what we can do to make things better for ourselves.

Going forward, you are heading to the court, I mean your presidential candidate; are you hopeful on the outcome thereof?

Of course, I am hopeful because you know election was rigged. And we are hopeful that the court will have the courage, like they’ve done to me in the past, to do the right thing because it is the last hope of the common man. It’s that hope of the people. We are talking about defending the mandate of the people. Democracy is about the people. We want to defend their mandate.

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Would you think part of the rigging we are talking about now started with the removal of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen, which many argue did not go through due process?

Well, I don’t know. But I think the process in which he was removed was equally wrong. We must learn to go through a due process, especially as enshrined in our constitution, on our rules and regulation. You know, because the law of nature…if we do this without following the rules and regulation…the purpose of law, the purpose of course, is that there is a process and whatever you do that does not go through due process is wrong.

Being in the opposition, was there anything your party could have done from the beginning to check this rigging?

There is nothing we would have done, except what we are doing now – going to court and saying this is wrong. And I believe in the courts. I believe the right thing will be done because it is affecting them too. Look at how the Chief Justice was removed! And tomorrow all of them may be removed like that.

All of us now live in a state of fear. If you don’t, I do. I am being harassed everyday for being a Nigerian and people are now telling me: Oh, go and live in England, go and live in Canada, go and live in so and so. How can I feel

freer to live in England and live in Canada than live in Nigeria? And I am a Nigerian citizen!

Against this background, how do you expect anything good to come out of the legal battle then?

We will stay here and solve that problem.