The Presidency has said despite alleged irregularities and harsh criticism of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the results of the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections still stand until otherwise proven in court.
It also ruled out any possibility of annulling the presidential elections as was done on June 12, 1993; advising aggrieved candidates of the opposition parties to pursue redress in court instead.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, revealed this in a piece chronicling key takeaways from the President’s recently-concluded trip to Doha, Qatar, where he attended the 5th United Nations summit on Least Developed Countries.
The PUNCH reported that long before INEC declared the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, as the winner of the election, the opposing Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party called for the cancellation of the exercise altogether, citing irregularities.
In a press conference held in Abuja on Monday, February 27, the Vice Presidential candidates of PDP and LP, Ifeanyi Okowa and Yusuf Datti, respectively, demanded fresh elections nationwide saying INEC failed to transmit results electronically from the BIVAS to the iREV portal immediately after collation at the Polling Units.
However, the electoral umpire proceeded with the collation exercise which culminated with Tinubu securing over eight million votes to emerge as President-elect.
The governing APC and the opposing PDP and LP have since constituted their legal teams to battle in court.
According to the Presidency, however, Buhari remained reticent about INEC’s criticism by “wishful thinkers” because he had long decided not to take any decisions that would undermine the electoral process.
“President Buhari not only muted himself following the cacophony, he picked up international travel: “Bola Tinubu’s election stands. If you are aggrieved, and you have the locus to do so, go to court,”’ the statement read.
The Presidency said in the buildup to Buhari’s trip to Qatar, he was faced with orchestrated attempts to poison public opinion against national institutions, particularly the presidential election and its conduct by the Independent National Electoral Commission, as an institution, against which vile and unsubstantiated allegations were hurled.
According to Shehu, “The clear intent of this was creating an atmosphere of fear, polarising the public and demonizing the administration of the President.
“The wishful thinkers appeared to assume that the June 12, 1993 election crisis, the worst ever since the Civil War could be recreated.
“Those who sought to do this forgot what the President said at the palace of the Gbong-Gwon Jos, when he went to the city to inaugurate the Tinubu-Shettima campaign: ‘this election will not be annulled; whoever is the winner will be president.”
The presidential spokesman echoed Buhari’s several iterations to world leaders in Qatar about handing over to a new President on May 29, 2023.
On Tuesday, The PUNCH reported that the President spoke with the Iranian VP, Mohsen Mansouri, calling for continued economic cooperation with the next administration, especially in the sectors of energy, infrastructure, and culture.
Buhari also appealed to Nigerians in Qatar to support Tinubu’s government “so that Nigeria will continue to be the beacon of hope and prosperity in our continent and an example for other African countries to emulate.”