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Tribunal judgement: Atiku’s greed cost PDP presidency – Okechukwu

 

Osita Okechukwu, the director-general of Voice of Nigeria (VON) and a founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), claims that Atiku Abubakar’s greed led to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) losing the 2023 presidential election.


Okechukwu remarked that PDP has strong chances of winning the February 25 election as he spoke as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal handed down its ruling on Wednesday on the lawsuits brought against President Bola Tinubu’s election.


According to him, PDP supporters should not blame the tribunal for failing to nullify Tinubu’s victory as they hoped, but rather, should lay their blame on Atiku for derailing the party’s chances in the presidential election.


Okechukwu noted that “Atiku’s failure to rise to the golden opportunity and play as a statesman by supporting his erstwhile running mate Peter Obi or any other Southern presidential candidate divided the opposition party”, adding, “Atiku dealt PDP a huge blow from which it might be difficult to recover.”


Commenting on the dismissal of petitions filed by the opposition parties against Tinubu of the APC, Okechukwu said, “Those intricate webs could have been resolved if Atiku had obeyed the zoning convention, supported Peter Obi or any other Southern presidential candidate.


“It could have been simply an all Southern bout. The Wike masquerade wouldn’t have emerged. That would have meant that the bulk of votes he (Obi) garnered could have been credited to PDP.


“Atiku divided PDP’s votes irreparably. All the votes Labour Party garnered were from the party’s (PDP) stronghold, minus votes warehoused by the former Vice President who naively forgot that Northern voters are one of the most sophisticated in the country, but believed that Northern electorate would behave like children in a dormitory waiting for directives on how to vote.”


Okechukwu added that Tinubu should be commended for ‘rescuing the zoning convention’ which provides for rotation of power between the North and the South.


He said, “First and foremost, let me congratulate President Tinubu, for rescuing the zoning convention, a ligament binding North and South from unprecedented assault.


“To be honest, my take is that the opposition lost the election that day in 2022, when His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, trampled on the presidential zoning convention, which governed the 4th Republic Nigeria and was also embedded in his party’s Constitution.


“Recall that Atiku earned accolades when he stormed out of PDP Convention in 2014 in protest that President Goodluck Jonathan was breaching the zoning convention. And, in 2018, Governor Nyesom Wike hosted the PDP convention in Port Harcourt and ensured that only Northern aspirants contested for the presidential ticket as a way of honouring the zoning convention.


“So, it is obvious that when Atiku sacrificed statesmanship on the altar of narrow political ambition, one concluded that he had wittingly or unwittingly fatally wounded the fabric of PDP.


“And, going by the time worn cliché, a divided house cannot stand. Nigerians should recognise that Atiku by his greed denied PDP a possible victory.”


Speaking further, Okechukwu stated that, as a ‘Buharist’ that had experienced the pain of losing post-election litigations, he fully understood the sense of grief among members of the PDP, Labour Party, LP and Allied Peoples Movement, APM, over the tribunal’s verdict.


Speaking on the way forward, Okechukwu called for the promulgation of a revised Electoral Act that will resolve all evident ambiguities by providing for only electronic accreditation and transmission of results.


Okechukwu said, “I subscribe to the idea that we should totally abolish manual collation of results and make electronic transmission of results mandatory.


*We also need to return to the popular Justice Uwais Handbook on Electoral Reform, which among other fine democratic tenets recommended how best to transparently recruit the INEC chairman, commissioners and sundry officials.


“With these alterations, election petitions will be concluded before swearing-in of winners. Let us not forget that our democracy has witnessed tremendous advancement and also keep in mind the fact that democracy is not a revolution, but a work in progress.”


 

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