Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, claims that Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party could not have won the February 25 presidential election because Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party, both of whom were formerly affiliated with Atiku’s party, the PDP, took some of the votes that Atiku should have received.
In his preliminary opposition to Atiku’s lawsuit asking for the annulment of the outcome of the presidential election on February 25, Tinubu made this claim.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared that Tinubu won the election with 8,794,726 votes.
The commission declared that Atiku came second with 6,984,520 votes; while Obi and Kwankwaso got 6,101,533 and 1,496,687 votes, respectively, to finish third and fourth.
Atiku, who alleged manipulation of the poll, had gone before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja, praying that Tinubu’s declaration as winner be voided.
But in opposition, Tinubu, in response filed through his legal team, contended that there was no way Atiku could have won the election because his chances were dimmed by many factors, including the infighting within his party and the defection of Obi and Kwankwaso to other parties.
According to Tinubu, in 2019 when Atiku contested the presidential election against the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the PDP was more cohesive, with Obi as his running mate and Kwankwaso as one of his supporters.
He said the situation changed in 2023 because “the same Obi broke away from the PDP to join the Labour Party to contest the presidential election of 25th February, 2023, while Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso also broke away from PDP to contest the presidential election on the ticket of the NNPP.
“While Peter Obi polled a total number of 6,101,533, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso polled 1,496,687.
“Before the balkanisation of the 2nd petitioner (PDP), the southeastern states of Enugu, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Anambra used to be controlled by the 2nd petitioner, but at the presidential election of February 25, 2023, they all went the way of Labour Party.
“At a press conference addressed by the 1st petitioner on or about March 2, 2023, he admitted the negative impact of the balkanisation of the 2nd petitioner on the fortune of his election, particularly, the exit of Peter Gregory Obi from the party.
“Respondent pleads the national newspapers that publicised the 1st petitioner’s press conference, including The PUNCH of March 3, 2023, where the 1st petitioner was reported to have lamented thus: It is a fact that Peter Obi took our votes from the South-East and South-South, but that wouldn’t make him the President. You need votes from everywhere.”
Describing Atiku as a serial loser since 1993, Tinubu said, “It was/is not a surprise and/or not by accident that the electorate rejected the 1st petitioner at the polls of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023.”
Tinubu said unlike him, who had maintained membership of a political party and increased his support base, Atiku, on the other hand, “has lost most of his followers in the process of moving from one political party to the other.”