By Chukwudi Nweje and Juliana Tiawo-Obalonye
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi insists that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not follow due processes in the 2023 presidential election and that the Commission also did not follow due process in declaring a winner. Speaking on Arise TV Morning Show, he rejected calls by eminent Nigerians to accept the outcome of the polls as God’s will and said such attitude is the problem of Nigeria. According to obi, god’s wish is for things to be done the right way. He also discussed other national issues in this televised interview.
You are at the Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, what exactly did you ask for?
I want the Independent National electoral commission (INEC) to give me access to the materials they used to conduct the election. INEC has conducted the election, they have also announced or declared a winner, I am only asking that they give me access to the materials they used to arrive at that, I am not asking them to change what they declared, I am not challenging the outcome and who they declared winner. I am challenging the process through which they arrived at their declaration. Unless we get the process right, we cannot stop the rascality witnessed in that election. The process through which people come into office is far more fundamental than what they do thereafter. Like I said in my press conference, if you want to answer His Excellency, the process through which you emerged must be excellent. There is a process for everything, if you want to become a Bishop, there is a process, the process of doing things and the process of arriving at any destination are important.
Festus Kayemo, spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) said your purpose in the last presidential election was to make Bola Tinubu president and that you have done that by depleting the votes of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in their traditional strongholds in the South East and South South. Also, Reno Omokri, spokesman of the PDP said the APC might have rigged but that you are a master rigger, that it is not possible to score 97 per cent votes in Anambra State, and likewise Atiku Abubakar admitted that your emergence as a presidential candidate hurt the chances of the PDP, what do you say to all these?
I contested the election to win, I did not contest to help anybody to win, and I will continue to say that the declared winner did not win. He might have been declared winner by whatever means but he did not win the election. To win is to win over the people. Democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people. That means that to win, you must win the people, if you don’t win the people, you have not won and I can tell you that in the last presidential election, the declared person did not win the people.
On Omokri’s allegation of rigging, I want to tell you that I have never and will never ask anybody to add one vote for me that does not rightfully belong to me. I have never begged anybody to rig an election for me. You can go around Nigeria and ask anybody in the INEC from the Electoral Officers (EOs) to the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), to anybody in the Commission whether Peter Obi has ever asked them to do this or do that. You can also ask the Police and the Army; I have never asked them to do anything. They are referees, their job is to do their job.
On the issue that I got 97 per cent votes in Anambra State. Reno Omokri forgot that in 2019 when I was Vice Presidential candidate to Atiku Abubakar, the place where the PDP had its highest votes is in Anambra State where the PDP scored almost 96 per cent of the votes and it was because I was on the ballot, the people know me because I live in Onitsha.
If you want to know whether it is possible for me to score 97 per cent in Anambra State, you can come with me to Anambra State, I don’t need a police escort. When I come out you can watch the reactions of the people. In fact, I am surprised I didn’t get 100 per cent because I don’t know who will vote against me in Anambra State. In other states of the South East, it is a similar situation; people know me and what I stand for, they know I have kept to my promises and what I said. People go about saying that I got votes in Lagos because of the Igbos, but I ask you how many Igbos live in Lagos? I got more votes from non-Igbo indigenes in Lagos than I got from those you would call visitors to Lagos. In Rivers State where the governor came out openly against me, if the real votes were counted, I won with over 50 per cent of the votes, the other two parties were sharing the other 50 per cent. I won in Aso Rock, would you say it is rigging? Which machinery do I have there to rig, I have neither councillor nor local government chairman there, I don’t know any DPO. It is the other parties that believe in this and that is what I want to change.
Beyond the presidential election, how are you going to channel your beliefs to impact on other members of the Obi-dient Movement, like other candidates of the Labour Party?
You see, Nigeria’s politics had always been largely transactional and when we were starting, many people didn’t believe in what we were trying to do. The consequence was that we didn’t have candidates in many states. Nigeria being a transactional society, many people preferred to be where things were being shared. Nobody believed that a party without councillors or local government chairman can come up and become something and because of that, we didn’t have candidates in many places. In many places we have candidates; the candidates are first time candidates.
In places where we don’t have candidates, we will look for good candidates there and work with them. In the South East, we only have candidates in two states. We are not saying it must be Labour Party always. In other places here, we think we have good people in other parties; we will support them. With time, we will be able to build institution to ensure that everything we do is right, but it will not be overnight, what we are trying to do is to build a new politics that will thrive on character, competence and compassion; that is why I got 97 per cent in Anambra State because everything I said I will do I did, where it is impossible, I told the people the truth. I didn’t lie to them, I accounted for their money. I believe in our candidates and I urge the Obi-dient family to support them.
Some prominent Nigerians including churches have been appealing for calm, saying that it is God’s wish, what do you say to them?
I respect prominent Nigerians and churches, but I disagree with them. What they are preaching is the problem of Nigeria; the problem of Nigeria is accepting everything as God’s wish, what they are doing is taking God’s name in vain. God said do not take my name in vain.
We can’t keep saying it is God’s wish. It can’t be God’s wish that people are poor, it can’t be God’s wish that people are dying, and it can’t be God’s wish that people are in darkness, it can’t be God’s wish that our children are kidnapped. God’s wish is for us to do the right thing. This election was predicated and planned, we have clear laws on the conduct of elections. If the result was uploaded from the polling unit like the law said, we would not be here. It is not God’s wish that we do the wrong thing, this is what is killing the country.
However, my appeal to the Obi-dient family is to remain calm, we have no other country than Nigeria and we will go through all legal means to bring a new Nigeria.