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Presidental Election: FG Warns Atiku Against Self-help

The Federal Government yesterday warned Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar against resorting to self-help over the outcome of the February 23 election. It asked Atiku to realise that the only lawful channel for challenging the result of an election is the court. Any act capable of triggering a crisis will not be condoned, the government said.

The government said it was absurd that Atiku had hired a lobbying firm to convince the United States not to recognise the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari until the Supreme Court has ruled on the suit he filed. Atiku has denied this.
It said having lost by almost four million (4m) votes, it was  unfortunate that Atiku is seeking US recognition as the winner of the election.
To the government, it is unfortunate that Atiku is thinking of replicating the Venezuelan model in Nigeria.
The government made its position known at a briefing in Abuja by Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, which was attended by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Mohammed said: “As you must have noticed in recent times, posters bearing the picture of former Vice President and the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, with the inscription: ‘’THE PUKKA, H.E. ATIKU ABUBAKAR, THE REAL AND THE RIGHT’’, have surfaced across major streets in Abuja.
“The appearance of these posters coincide with the media report  that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has hired a US lobbying firm to convince the United States not to recognise the re-election of President Buhari until the Supreme Court has ruled on the suit by the PDP presidential candidate
“The posters and the hiring of U.S. lobbyists, the latest of such by the PDP candidate, have triggered questions about what Alhaji Abubakar is up to. Is he starting a fresh campaign after the elections have been won and lost?
”Has he rescinded his decision to challenge the results of the presidential election in court, perhaps after realising that the results he claimed to have obtained from the INEC back server are cooked? Is he now going for self-help? What really is Atiku’s motive?
“Gentlemen, we are aware of media reports that the PDP presidential candidate on Wednesday distanced himself from the posters that are circulating in Abuja. He also reportedly denied hiring U.S. lobbyists, claiming tongue-in-cheek that the APC fabricated the report.
“If the media reports are right, it means that the former Vice President has suddenly realised the grave implication of his actions, hence has decided to beat a quick retreat before it is too late.
“As a self-avowed democrat, he should realise that the only lawful channel for challenging the result of an election is through the courts. Resorting to self-help, as he seems to be doing now, is an act of desperation and the consequences are dire.”
The Federal Government described Atiku’s plot to replicate the Venezuelan model in Nigeria as sheer daydreaming.
Mohammed added:  “There is no doubt that the PDP presidential candidate, out of desperation, is thinking of replicating the Venezuelan model right here in Nigeria. But he should realise that Nigeria is not Venezuela, and that the situations in both countries are not the same.
“President Muhammadu Buhari won the Feb. 23rd 2019 presidential elections fair and square, with a margin of 3,928,869 million votes. The election’s credibility was attested to by local and foreign observers.
“There is no doubt that President Buhari’s victory is well- deserved. As I said at a different forum, it represents the triumph of the ordinary Nigerians over the elite.
“The election is a direct contest between ordinary Nigerians and the elite, most of whom are rent seekers. Of course, the ordinary Nigerians have won. This is not a surprise, considering the pro-poor policy of the Administration.
“Despite the antics of the naysayers, Nigerians demonstrated that they appreciate the giant strides that have been made by the administration; whether in the areas of economy, fight against corruption or in tackling insecurity.”
Although the minister admitted that it is within the fundamental human rights of Atiku to go to court on the results of the Presidential Election, he cautioned him against seeking U.S. recognition as the winner of the poll.
He said: “ Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has the right to do whatever is lawful to challenge the outcome of that election. But he cannot get through the back door what he couldn’t get through the front door. That will be a pipe dream.
“ If he believes hiring a foreign lobbying firm will advance his quest, we wish him the best of luck. But seeking U.S. recognition as the winner of an election that he lost by almost four million votes is unconscionable.
“Recall, gentlemen, that after the result of the presidential election was announced, the U.S. joined other countries to congratulate President Buhari.
“Let me read a part of the statement by Michael Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State: ‘We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the election and condemn those whose acts of violence harmed Nigerians and the electoral process. We note the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election, despite localised violence and irregularities.  Going forward, the United States remains committed to working together with Nigeria to achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.’ I think that says it all.
Mohammed said losing an election is not the end of the world and warned Atiku against resorting to self-help.
He said: “Yes, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has lost an election. But he will not be the first or the last person to lose an election, and he should realise that losing an election is not the end of the world.
“He has challenged the result of the election in court. That’s just as well. However, he should not give the impression that he does not have confidence in the judicial process, which is what resorting to self-help implies.
“He should stop overheating the polity and quit trying to instigate a political crisis in Nigeria. No citizen, no matter how highly placed, is above the laws of the land. Enough is enough!”
Responding to some questions, Mohammed added: “To answer your question, I won’t use the word as strong as treasonable felony. I will simply say that any act of  anybody capable of triggering local crisis will not be condoned by this government.
“We are glad he has distanced himself from the posters. But we will want to sound a warning to him that elections are not a matter of life and death; that this country is greater than anybody’s ambition
“To the question that whether or not we are trying to intimidate Atiku, I think he is the one trying to intimidate this government. A  government is not just there for elections, a government is there to preserve law and order and ensure that every citizen, no matter what his interest and rights are, is free to go about and achieve his or her aspirations.
“But when you now overheat the polity and you behave as if the country is at war, no responsible government will sit by and overlook it.
“Atiku has gone to court and the court process is on, what is the point of asking whether we will accept the verdict of the tribunal or not. Don’t forget, there is a process in Nigeria. If the tribunal pronounces one way or the other, you will appeal and go to the Supreme Court. The question of whether or not we will accept the verdict of the tribunal does not even arise. To me, his going to the tribunal is an exercise in futility. Look at the figures, look at the spread. We won fair and square. We have six zones and Buhari won comfortably in four of the zones.”
The minister insisted that Buhari won the presidential poll based on his integrity and performance in office.
He added: “This is a government that has done so much with less in restoring decency and integrity to governance. Like the New York Times said, the re-election of President Buhari is a referendum on honesty.
“Of course you know that the policies of the administration endeared President Buhari to the ordinary Nigerians: The government feeds 9.3 million school children every day; 500,000 unemployed graduates have been employed under N-Power; 300,000 families are benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer; Interest-free loans of between N10,000 and N100,000 under the TraderMoni and the MarketMoni Schemes, respectively, to small business owners; Pensioners who have been left in the lurch are being paid – ex-workers of the Nigerian Airways, NITEL and former Biafran policemen; fight against corruption is being institutionalised with a number of policies that include Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Whistle-blower policy that has led to the recovery of huge amounts of money as well as property from looters.”
 But the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar said he did not pay a United States lobby group $30, 000 to prevail on the US Congress to stop the May 29 inauguration of President Buhari.
The Buhari Campaign Group had alleged that Atiku paid the group to push for his recognition as the winner of the February 23 presidential election.
Reacting through his Media Adviser, Mr Paul Ibe, Atiku said the allegation was “diversionary”, adding that they are “shameless lies and dirty propaganda” against Atiku.
In a statement, he said lying had become a culture of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration and, the Atiku camp was not surprised by the diversionary allegations.
The statement said: “Since Atiku resisted pressure not to go to court, the APC has been behaving like a cat on hot bricks  because the outcome of the 2019 elections has exposed and shattered the facade of their dubious integrity.
“The APC are behaving nervously like a thief living under the fear of being exposed and shamed. They are now using fake news against Atiku instead of focusing on defending themselves in the court.
“For a party that has broken the worst record in election rigging, the APC doesn’t have any iota of integrity to be taken seriously by anybody.
“Atiku’s court case has become their biggest burden because it exposes their integrity as a sham, and instead of defending their stolen mandate in court, they are now using fake news to divert public attention from the historic electoral heist they have committed against Nigerians.”
The statement added that no amount of diversionary propaganda and fake news campaign by APC will stop Atiku Abubakar from continuing the court action he started to reclaim the “stolen mandate”.- The Nation
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