The aftermath of the 2023 presidential and governorship elections in Nigeria has continued to be a burning issue in Nigeria as a result of mixed opinions from Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora bothering on it’s outcomes.
The National Coordinator of Global Initiative for Good Governance, GIGG, and People Democratic Coalition (PDPCoalition), Chief Dr. Emeka Charles spoke on a variety of issues in this interview with Comr Amos Kalu, OHAFIATV News.
How would you react to the way the INEC Chairman treated protests by some political parties, especially the PDP and LP during the announcement of the presidential election results?
The last elections will continue to be the subject of discussion in the history of Nigeria because Nigerians were not just lied to, they were fooled to believe that there were going to be handed a free, fair, and credible election.
Nigerians went into the election full of expectation and optimism that the administration of Major General Mohammadu Buhari and his boys were going to give them an election that will set the right precedence for a healthy electoral success that will usher in an era where Nigerians would be able to choose the right leaders through the ballot box. But what INEC displayed was a gross neglect of decency and decorum to carry out the will of a select few against the will of the masses.
As for how he treated reports of inconsistencies and irregularities that directly conflicted with the electoral act, it was obvious that it was not about reason but interest. He told aggrieved persons to go to court because they know how to manage the court to uphold their illegality. It is painful.
Why do you think that The INEC Chairman could not use seven days to review the results before announcing the alleged winner, instead he referred the aggrieved parties to the tribunal.
I have already said it. He was in a hurry to fulfill his part of a possible bargain and therefore had no room to entertain reasons. Prof Yakubu Mahmoud was playing out a script written by APC against every other political party, he did not see reasons to review any complaint brought before him, no matter how weighty the evidence, he wanted to be over with it in a hurry and ended up ridiculing Nigeria before the world.
In 2019, the same INEC referred PDP to court where every piece of evidence brought against APC was discarded and justice denied. APC has the belief that nothing good will come out of the court and always goes on with a display of arrogance and tells you to go to court. Many people have said that based on cases of drug involvement of Mr. Tinubu, INEC should have disqualified him, but they did not and still went ahead to announce him, as the winner, after the broad day robbery of the Nigerian people. But from what is going down in the latest “go to court”, our image as a nation may end up being battered after some secrets are brought to light. So let’s see how it ends in court.
What is your take on the reported victory of the APC presidential candidate?
It is as it is. We have seen the magic, we have seen a flagrant display of impunity on the part of INEC who openly disregarded their laid down rules and regulations to carry out the will of few, thereby refusing to upload the result from BVAS to iRav as expected, giving them room to manipulate the results in favor of APC candidate.
It is also clear that the rule stated that any place with disturbances during the elections will be canceled, but INEC witnessed firsthand reports of hoodlum attacks, disenfranchisement, and outright xenophobia against APC opposition in Lagos and still went ahead to announce Tinubu as the winner.
Ask yourself this, after the elections of 25th February 2023, has anyone been arrested for the electoral offenses I mentioned above? None. When nothing was done, the hoodlums and proponents of xenophobic actions against their fellow countrymen were emboldened and came all out on 18th March 2023, has anything been done about it? The answer is no. So this is not about how I feel or what Nigerians wished, it is about what APC wants which INEC is very ready to give without caring about what we think.
The LP candidate seemed to have had a clean sweep of the votes in the South East to the detriment of your party’s candidate. How would you explain this development as the zone was known to be a PDP stronghold?
Change is constant, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, Southeast will remain a PDP stronghold till tomorrow. What happened was a rave of the moment of a new political belief called “Obedient”, it shook the known trend and everything returned to normal. The People’s Democratic Party remains the strongest opposition party. Anytime Nigeria begins to have free, fair, and credible elections, the trajectory will change.
At this juncture, with the grip APC has in INEC, it is difficult for any party to boast of strongholds, but the PDP I know will continue to wax strong and challenge the excesses of APC until we retake power at the center through a credible election that will be determined by the express will of the electorates.
Would you say the results of the presidential and NASS elections would have been different if the PDP leaders had been able to manage the problems that arose from its primary election better?
Of course, PDP did not go into the 2023 elections as one body as they did in 2019, APC took advantage of that because a house divided among itself can never stand. It is obvious that the G5 Governors did not bring their efforts to the table, they took different paths and diminished the chances of PDP in 2023.
As a party man, I vigorously advocated for peace within because I knew we were going to pay a heavy price for disunity, but you can only play your part by offering solutions, it is up to people working with you to agree and carry out those ideas to bring Unity. We have learned our lessons the hard way, I am sure we will come back to allow greater reasoning to succeed so that we can rebuild and strengthen the party for the tasks ahead.
What do you think should be the way forward for the PDP? Do you think that Iyorchia Ayu should continue holding on to the chairmanship position now?
Every time human beings come together to champion some interests, the best remedy is to employ dialogue, and engage in negotiations in the best interest of the body, to ensure that everyone’s interest is accommodated and entertained.
Other parties have had worse-case scenarios but they are still holding unto power tenaciously which is the ultimate goal of any political party.
My point is that I am in no position to decide if he should hold on or otherwise, I am saying that we need to go back to the drawing board, review everything that played out and agree on the way forward in the best interest and future of the party.
How do you think your party should be preparing for the governorship election in Imo State coming up a few months from now?
They all have to come back and review their errors, correct them, mend fences strengthen the internal mechanism of the party, then we will be good to go.
Do you think PDP can win the Imo governorship election going by its poor outing in the presidential and other elections in the South East which used to be its stronghold?
Why not? PDP can win any election anywhere in Nigeria, anytime. But I already said that our electoral process is still manipulated to serve the interest of APC. I believe that the exit of Mahmood will make way for better days in our electoral system. I assure you that PDP is the party to beat any time any day.
You realize that APC is not in charge of the Imo state because they are more popular or that they won the election there, but they have every instrument of the state under their fingers to cause the impossible to happen against the will of the people as seen in Imo State. Be rest assured that PDP is prepped for the future, we are going to retake the state for the people and end that era of impunity and thwarting of justice. Trust me
From what transpired in the presidential election, to what extent do you believe in the BVAS technology?
BVAS technology is the best step towards free and fair elections in Nigeria. Its only problem currently is human error (intentional of course). By the time Nigeria’s leadership is sincere enough to allow INEC to become an independent body to be headed by men with integrity and a penchant for truth, then BVAS will become the solution to a credible election.
I know it must come with errors that will be handled or corrected over time. We must be ready to help it evolve into a perfect solution. Unfortunately, the present INEC are not ready to improve on it over time because they had the intention of manipulating it In 2023, but we have seen that BVAS will do great in the future and Nigeria has hope of free, fair, and credible elections when human errors and greed is overridden in its processes.
The issue of abandoned properties in Rivers State was reopened by the Rivers stakeholders. How do you see this emerging situation which seems to indicate that the issue was like a corpse that was not properly buried?
Nigeria is a hypothetical enclave where the plight of Ndi Igbo has become part of the highest-selling card to garner political fortunes. But the question is, to what end was the issue of abandoned property raised again? Was it aimed at addressing it or just to score cheap political goals?/ After the electioneering period, will it remain a subject of discourse to address it?/ if the answer to these rhetorics is No! Then it is just another wild goose chase.
Come to think of it. I think it was Amaechi that raised the issue to garner Igbo sympathy votes for the APC candidate. Why didn’t he address the issue when he was governor for 8 years but chose to discuss it 16 years after he left office?
He was in charge of building rails in the North for 8 years, even to connect the Niger Republic, how many did he build in Igbo states to show concern for their plight in Nigeria? None. Instead, he supervised the removal of the old rail lines to build a narrow gauge that has died off. So they should stop acting as if people have no heads. We must not raise sensitive issues to score cheap political goals. We know that the war against Ndigbo is not over. That is why they lack federal presence, they have no international airports and no seaports, these are issues putting a question mark on a united Nigeria, raising the issue of the 1970s while avoiding solving that, or 2023 is the height of hypocrisy and politically reckless. Let’s be properly guided.