The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday in Daura, Katsina State, felicitated with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, for emerging the winner of the February 25 Presidential Elections.
Buhari said he will now work closely with Mr Tinubu’s team to ensure an “orderly handover of power.”
In a statement signed early Wednesday by the President’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari who admitted faults in the electoral process, especially in the electronic transmission of results, said it does not dent the freeness and fairness of the elections.
Therefore, he urged aggrieved parties to take their complaints “to the courts, not to the streets.”
The statement is titled ‘President Buhari congratulates the winner of the presidential election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’.
The PUNCH reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission, early Wednesday, declared Mr Tinubu as the winner of the presidential elections; 72 hours after the collation of results began.
Tinubu who polled 8,794,726 winning in 12 states, lead the Peoples Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar, who scored 6,984,520 votes, Labour Party’s Peter Obi who polled 6,101,533, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, who garnered 1,496,687 votes.
Reacting to the results Buhari said “I congratulate His Excellency Bola Tinubu on his victory.
“Elected by the people, he is the best person for the job. I shall now work with him and his team to ensure an orderly handover of power.
“The election was Africa’s largest democratic exercise. In a region that has undergone backsliding and military coups in recent years, this election demonstrates democracy’s continued relevance and capability to deliver for the people it serves.”
The President said Saturday’s election results reveal a ripening democracy in Nigeria.
According to him, “Never has the electoral map shifted so drastically in one cycle. In the presidential elections, states in all regions across the nation changed colour.
“Some of you may have noticed my home state amongst them. The winning candidate did not carry his own home state either.
“That happens during a competitive election. Votes and those that cast them cannot be taken for granted. Each must be earned. Competition is good for our democracy. There is no doubt the people’s decision has been rendered in the results we look at today.”
However, Buhari admitted faults in the electoral process.
Citing INEC’s failure to transmit the results electronically, Buhari argued that the gaffe does not mar the freeness and fairness of the elections.
The PUNCH reports that long before the national collation exercise was concluded in Abuja, the PDP and LP, on Monday, rejected the results, alleging irregularities.
Both parties called for the cancellation of the election and also asked the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to step down over claims that the election was rigged in the APC’s favour.
However, Buhari disagrees.
He said, “That is not to say the exercise was without fault. For instance, there were technical problems with the electronic transmission of the results.
“Of course, there will be areas that need work to bring further transparency and credibility to the voting procedure. However, none of the issues registered represents a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections.
“I know some politicians and candidates may not agree with this view. That too is fine. If any candidate believes they can prove the fraud they claim is committed against them, then bring forward the evidence.
“If they cannot, then we must conclude that the election was indeed the people’s will – no matter how hard that may be for the losers to accept. If they feel the need to challenge, please take it to the courts, not to the streets.”
He said taking to the streets is not in the interest of the people, but will inflame Nigerian and put them in harm’s way “all for personal, selfish gains.”
Buhari urged the candidates to remember their agreement at the peace accord signed days to the election.
“It is now time to come together and act responsibly. I call on all candidates to remember the peace pledge they signed just days before the election.
“Do not undermine the credibility of INEC. Let us now move forward as one. The people have spoken,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Daura, the President played host to guests who thronged his private residence to celebrate the APC’s victory.
A statement signed by the President’s spokesman, Shehu, revealed that Katsina state Governor, Aminu Masari and the Emir of Daura, Dr Umar Umar, led members of their cabinets on separate visits.
He thanked the electorate for their massive support for the APC in the Presidential and the National Assembly elections, asking them to further mobilise for the upcoming governorship and Houses of Assembly elections.