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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Buhari could have beaten Jonathan with more votes - Shehu.

Leke Baiyewu

The Director, Media and Publicity, All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Garba Shehu, tells LEKE BAIYEWU in this interview why General Muhammadu Buhari would have won the presidential election with more votes
What is your general assessment of the presidential election, apart from the fact that General Muhammadu Buhari won the race?
We are satisfied with the process because we have won. The overall goal is to win and we have won with a clear margin. If we have to pick holes in this election, obviously there are two things; one, the card reader technology has been sabotaged in the South-East and the South-South. We do not know how they did this but we have strong suspicion that they sabotaged the technology. Therefore, the technology did not work and they blackmailed the Independent National Electoral Commission into adopting manual (voter) accreditation. They are very comfortable with it because that was what they wanted.
In one of the (presidential campaign) rallies, Governor Rotimi Amaechi (of Rivers State) said in the South-South and the South-East, they (the electorate) do not vote; what they were after is the result sheet. When some people are queuing to cast their votes, it will be an exercise in futility and a fruitless exercise because the result sheets have been taken somewhere and are being filled. You remember what Governor Amaechi did on the day of election in Port Harcourt. He said ‘I will not vote until I see the result sheet.’ He was not shown any result sheet and he did not vote.
The election was rigged in Delta, Imo and in Rivers in particular. This explained the large numbers that came out of those places. While people were on the streets of Akwa Ibom, protesting that they were not allowed to vote, these large numbers were coming out. In Rivers, people were at the INEC office, including the (APC) governorship candidate, chanting ‘we want to vote, we want to vote.’ They were not given the opportunity to vote. Our people did not make noise over it. We allowed it to pass because we believed that we had a wide margin to competently absorb all these nonsense. And that was what happened. That election would have been decided by between 65 per cent and 70 per cent win by the APC; that was our expectation. But we allowed it to pass.
If truly the APC supporters were disenfranchised in the election, why then do you think the PDP is also contesting the result of the exercise?
Our belief is that wherever the card readers were used, rigging was forestalled there. I can assure you that in the North and the South-West, the card readers worked and they worked to our satisfaction. If they (PDP) have any evidence, let them go to court.
But is it ideal for the APC to overlook the alleged disenfranchisement of its members?
Do you think that all the National Assembly seats that were carted away in Rivers will be allowed to go? I am sure that with all of those seats that were stolen in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and some other places in the South-East, fresh elections will be ordered. They will not be allowed to go like that.
Do you think there is anything spectacular about the APC that made it win the presidential election?
There are two things: first, the country generally was ready to accept change. We have to give it to Nigerians. The political environment was ripe for change. The country has been mismanaged for so many years by the PDP. They have taken Nigerians for granted. Second, you must also consider Buhari and his integrity status — the personal integrity of the leader of the campaign. It was important because Nigerians needed somebody they could trust. Third, we ran an issue-based campaign. We isolated the key issues of concern to Nigerians; the issue of insecurity, corruption, economic downturn and unemployment.
In spite of all efforts to distract us from these elements, we stayed on. While the PDP was busy jumping from one personal issue to the other, forgetting the main issues in their campaign, we addressed the issues concerning the people.
Next are the governorship and state Houses of Assembly membership elections. What is your expectation?
We will do better than we did at the presidential poll. Any police commissioner who allowed rigging in favour of Jonathan and any army commander who collaborated in rigging in the last election will now see Buhari as the next Commander-in-Chief. I don’t think any of them will allow the PDP to mess them up with the next elections.
There will also be the bandwagon effect. The bandwagon factor is moving at a fast speed and whoever is not on it is a loser. Nigerians know how the game is played; they will come on board.
But the PDP has dismissed any bandwagon effect on the forthcoming governorship poll.
Let them go and tell the people from the moon. Nigerians know themselves; we know ourselves, and we know the way it works.
How much hope do you have in breaking the PDP strongholds in the governorship poll?
The security services that played game, thinking that Jonathan would win have now seen that they were wrong. If I am the police commissioner of Rivers State, and my hope is to become the Inspector-General of Police one day, I will not follow Jonathan to the grave – a political grave. Igbo people have a parable that says it is the greedy fly that gets buried along with the corpse.
Considering your comments, is there any possibility that Buhari may come after some people when he gets into office?
No. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He had said repeatedly that there is no time for witch-hunting. Otherwise, the job won’t get done.
Does that include those believed to have been used against him or his party?
Why would he go after them? Are they not citizens? He had said he would be a president for all. You heard his (acceptance) speech on Wednesday. They should not entertain any fear. But he will take responsibility for whatever is done under him. If you’ve not committed any crime under him, there is no reason to be afraid of him. However, if the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) has been investigating someone; it is not for Buhari to stop it. That is like interfering with its work. So, ongoing cases will continue.
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