Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has described Nigeria’s just concluded presidential election held last month as the worst conducted in the country’s recent history.
Obi stated this during an interview on Channels TV Sunrise Daily morning show on Thursday.
He lamented that despite repeated promises by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to ensure that the elections were credible and successful with the help of the BVAS technology, coupled with the huge amount budgeted for the exercise, the process was far below expectations.
“We have seen probably what I consider the worst election in our recent history because of the Electoral law (Act) of 2022 which gave so much hope and the huge expenditure we put into technology. Do you know what it means to spend over $1bn? So, there was so much that was promised and then we went back to what it used to be. For me, that is very devastating,” Obi said.
The former governor of Anambra State lamented that the poor performance of INEC in the election due to the commission’s failure to upload election results in real-time on its portal as promised has downgraded the country’s rating by some rating firms.
“Look at how they downgraded us globally all over the newspaper. Starting from the Financial Times to the Economists to Chatham House to institutions that don’t make comments to start making comments bringing us so low in the comity of nations. Even one of the rating agencies downgrades our ratings.”
“A country as big as Nigeria, the giant of Africa, supposedly a nation that should be celebrated globally, 63 years after independence cannot conduct a simple election. For me, the struggle is on and we must reverse the situation”, Obi said.
When asked about the key factors that made this election the worst in Nigeria’s history, the LP candidate said, “The issue of the so-called BVAS which I have changed to ‘Basic Value Acceptable’ …So you have promised that you are going to conduct an election through a process and that process failed completely.”
INEC had, on 1 March, declared Bola Tinubu of the ruling party APC, winner of the 25 February presidential election.
Tinubu defeated 17 other candidates who took part in the election. He scored a total of 8,794,726 popular votes, while Atiku Abubakar of the PDP came second in the election with 6,984,520 votes and Mr Obi of the LP third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.
However, both Atiku and Obi have since rejected the results as announced by INEC with each of them laying claim to winning the election and vowing to challenge the exercise in court.
“I am hurt for my country”
During the interview on Thursday, when Obi was asked if he was hurt, he said, “I am not hurt personally, I am not saddened personally but I am for my country and the future it portends for the young ones and the future generations because we must build a better place for them. It is about the future of our society.
“My generation would say we have lost it. We must build a better place for them. And building a better place is why I am saddened. I can assure anybody that if today I were to be in service, Nigeria would not spend nearly what it spent and we would have a first-class election that would be celebrated globally.”
He reiterated that “everybody paid so much emphasis on the law and the technology,” describing the failures of the exercise as “when you promise so much and don’t even meet the minimum.”
Obi said “whenever there is an election announced globally, what it does is that it uplifts the ratings of that society,” but that the conduct of the recent presidential election has further dampened the morale of youth who had so much hope in the process.
While vowing that “we must build and bequeath them a better future,” Obi assured that he is on course to getting justice.
Ongoing legal redress
Obi said he and his party have approached INEC requesting to inspect the materials used in conducting the elections and that he believes the commission is cooperating.
According to him, the commission has granted them access but that they said they want to reconfigure the BVAS for the forthcoming gubernatorial and state assembly elections.
“Yes we have been given access…” he said when asked if INEC is complying with the court ruling to inspect the election materials used.
More votes in Lagos
Obi reiterated that he had more votes in Lagos than what was announced by INEC.
He said they were able to gather more votes in Lagos because they told the people of Lagos the truth during their campaign in the state.
“I can assure you that the position announced by INEC is false. I don’t know exactly what it would have been. Our votes are far more than that and the matter is in court.
“We campaigned and we told the people nothing but the truth. We want to build a new Nigeria where Lagos will be a place and a financial centre not just for Africa but probably the middle east. We will use it as a place to drive Africa in terms of finance and I am part of that world,” Obi said.
He said they did the same thing in other states too, stating “We can only draw from the past. It is the same thing that we have done all over Nigeria because the North would be something where you have things of pulling people out of poverty due to massive agricultural production that would lead to industry that would lead to export.”