Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in the recently concluded presidential and national assembly elections held on Saturday, February 25, has criticized President Muhammadu Buhari for not doing enough to ensure free, fair, and credible elections.
With the level of alleged vote-buying, use of firearms to intimidate the populace, and other irregularities noted, Kwakwanso claimed that in civilized nations around the world, the elections would have been called off, just as he claimed that the results of the presidential election never accurately represented the preferences of Nigerians.
He has however pleaded with the Judiciary to always remain as the last hope of the common man and not a repeat of number four person becoming number one courtesy of the Supreme, expressing fears that now it may be another ball game.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the first post 2023 election meeting of the party’s National Executive Council (NEC), the former Governor of Kano State and a Senator however who accused the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) of manipulating the outcome of the general elections in some states, especially the presidential election, simply said that the election “is not a reflection of the minds of Nigerians”.
According to him, with the performance of the NNPP inspite of the late entrance into the political scene, almost a year old, it is a party for the future against the backdrop that many Nigerians are ready to join the NNPP ahead of 2027, even as he lamented that Nigerians were not allowed to enjoy the “positive change” they were looking for.
Consequently, Kwankwaso who doubles as the National Leader of the party, urged the leadership of the NNPP to use the opportunity provided before the next round of election in 2027 in “to tighten their belts, go back to constituency and work more better. We have four years to reposition the party to deliver positive change to Nigerians”.
He said, “We joined this party barely one year old, the performance we have seen, I believe we should all congratulate ourselves. We have down well and what is even more important is that almost everybody now believes that NNPP is party for the future. Immediately after this election, some people visited me to say that now we have seen the light and before 2027, they are going to join our party.
“The challenge of the time is very critical, because this is the first time in the history of this country where we have a party, especially after the establishment of the two parties across the country, that within the shortest possible time, had this kind of popularity based on the integrity and hardwork and commitment to this country. I believe it is time we congratulate ourselves and also tighten out seatbelt to go back to our constituencies and work much harder.
“I also believe that now that we have more years to strategize and push forward the party so that more people are accommodated as members and leadership at various levels of the party at the States, and even in terms of number and quality so that Nigerians can have an opportunity to have a positive change that our party, the NNPP stands for in this country.
“We are happy with the security agents going by what we have seen in Kano and other parts of the country. Generally they have done well, even though Kano had their peculiar situation where we believe some security agents were against our party.
“On behalf of our party and the entire leadership and all of you here, to all our supporters, who are standing side by side with us to defy all the challenges, challenge of time, even challenge of resources. We have seen in most States, how people were openly displaying money, both local and foreign currencies, purchasing voters and so on and so forth.”
He urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make improvements to its procedures in the conduct of future elections while also expressing displeasure with the placement of the party’s logo on the ballot papers due to poor printing, which resulted in the massive disenfranchisement of its supporters in some areas.
According to the former Minister of Defence, some international observers like former President of South Africa, Thambo Mbeki and others who were in the country to monitor the exercise could not decipher the party’s logo on the papers, adding that Nigerians “don’t like the ruling party,” as he maintained that the APC resorted to “vote buying with local and foreign currency, and use of thugs to violently” clinch electoral mandates.
Senator Kwankwaso accused the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, who he accused of importing thugs from neighbouring states and countries, even as as he acused some security agents for complicity in election related violence.
The NNPP Presidential candidate who lampooned politicians of deliberately impoverishing Nigerians to buy them over during elections, howevervwarned against the win at all cost syndrome, as he bemoaned that unfair treatment and injustice created banditry, Boko Haram, and other crises bedeviling the country.
Kwankwaso said, “We have seen how in many states, especially in my state Kano, how government brought out money and the State government in Kano, imported thugs, people from neighbouring States and neighbouring countries and also being supported by some of the security agents that we have here in this country.
“I pray to Almighty God to show us in this country when elections will be the way it use to be. Peaceful without arms, without other dangerous weapons, without open purchase of votes and so on.
“I pray to Almighty God that, in fact we are already there at the point of prayer, because some of these things are being supported by Government at all levels. The way it is going now, only God knows how to solve some of these things.
“We have seen what happened in Kano in 2019 and also in the last election. We saw what happened in some States, especially Kogi State, where security agents were seen running around, picking ballot boxes, shooting in the air. All sorts of things and many other States, even in Imo.
“We pray that they judiciary should be a better place for us, because now, we have number four being the governor of the State, maybe he will be number five or six and still go back to his seat, being supported by INEC, supported by judiciary. People have seen what happened in our case in 2019, so actually for me, I believe that so many things are wrong with our democracy. And those are hitting so hard at our democracy are the very people who are the beneficiaries of this democracy.
While commending the party for its accomplishments and stating that “Nigeria belongs to all of us,” Senator Kwankwaso cautioned that no one should believe they have more weapons at their disposal. He also revealed that more people are pushing to join the party before the 2027 election.
The NNPP’s National Chairman, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, said earlier in his remarks that while the 2023 presidential election has come and gone, it has left behind a trail of resentment, bitterness, and uncertainty with many unanswered questions agitating for answers. In addition to producing a governor-elect, the party also won two Senate seats and other positions at the House of Representatives.
Alkali said, “In my view, for anybody to have legitimate authority in this country, he must have political victory, legal victory, and moral victory”.
The NNPP National Chairman urged INEC to shift gears and step up its efforts to restore faith in the electoral process ahead of the impending governorship elections in the states of Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo.
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