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QuickRead: Buhari’s gloating on presidential election. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter



President Muhammadu Buhari last week did a post-mortem of the February 25 presidential election, while the government he leads also postponed the national census slated to begin this week.

These and three other stories we tracked dominated public discourse last week.

1. Buhari’s gloating on the presidential election

On April 27, President Buhari identified overconfidence as the cause of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led opposition’s defeat in the presidential election.

The president, according to a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this when members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum visited him at the State House, Abuja.

He commended the All Progressives Congress (APC) for working hard to retain power at the centre by winning the election.

The president said: “They (the opposition) were already telling their foreign backers that they would defeat the APC. Our party blended confidence with caution, we worked hard and won. Now, their overconfidence is creating more problems for the opposition than anyone else. They are finding it hard to convince those who supported them from the outside why they are unable to beat us.”

Why it matters

Buhari may have stated the obvious on the outcome of the election with the disjointed opposition mounted by other parties against the ruling party in the election.

The opposition which banked on the resentment of Nigerians about the dismal performance of the APC in the last eight years to coast to victory in the election failed to forge a common front and ran individual campaigns ahead of the polls.

This complacency was also the reason the PDP, in particular, paid little attention to the in-fighting that eventually dashed its hope of regaining power at the centre.

All said, the post-election resentments again highlight the need for improvements in the nation’s electoral processes to achieve polls that are acceptable to all.

2. FG postpones national census

President Muhammadu Buhari on April 28 approved the postponement of the 2023 Population and Housing Census slated to take place from May 3 to May 7.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who announced this in a statement, said the incoming administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will announce a new date for the exercise.

He said: “In arriving at the decision to postpone the census, the meeting reiterated the critical need for the conduct of a Population and Housing Census, 17 years after the last census, to collect up-to-date data that will drive the developmental goals of the country and improve the living standard of the Nigerian people.”

Why it matters

Without a doubt, holding a national census just a few weeks after the general elections would have been a miscalculation in the face of current realities in Nigeria.

With the dust raised by the outcome of the elections yet to settle coupled with the insecurity in the land and not forgetting the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) taking refuge in tents and makeshift camps across the country, conducting a credible census under the situation would have been a herculean task.

The postponement is therefore a welcome development as it gives the National Population Commission (NPC) and other agencies involved ample time to plan and address all grey areas in the exercise.

3. Court dismisses EFCC’s case against Yahaya Bello

Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on April 27 vacated an interim order of forfeiture obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 14 properties allegedly linked to the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

Read Also:QuickRead: Labour Party’s crisis festers. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter

The judge, who struck out the entire suit for lack of jurisdiction to entertain it, said: “Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution confers immunity on a sitting governor or president from any civil or criminal prosecution.”

Why it matters

The ruling reinforces the call for another look at the 1999 Constitution, especially sections shielding elected public officials from investigation and possible prosecution for wrongdoings while still in office.

The many anomalies in the document have been identified as the cause of the current problems in the country and the challenge lies on the National Assembly to refresh it in the interest of Nigerians.

The onus also lies on the anti-graft agencies to always discharge the burden of proof on cases, particularly the ones that concern Kogi because of the recent spats between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Bello administration.

4. LP on Apapa faction’s request to the tribunals

The Labour Party on April 25 urged the election petition tribunals to disregard letters written by a faction led by Lamidi Apapa, demanding the dismissal of all petitions, including the one challenging the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinbu, in the February 25 election.

The LP acting National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, who made the call in a statement posted on the party’s website, accused Apapa and his supporters of working to satisfy their paymasters who are determined to truncate the country’s democracy.

The statement read: “We are by this statement informing all arms of the judiciary, including the tribunals and courts to ignore the ignoble antics of these compromised suspended members of the party. We are also calling on the police, DSS and EFCC to arrest these enemies of democracy.”

Why it matters

LP’s statement is the latest chapter in the imbroglio trying to push the party to rock bottom weeks after its impressive performance in the country’s national elections.

The current crisis, therefore, implies that the party has not learnt a lesson from the mistakes that undermined it in the past.

5. Smart Adeyemi demands cancellation of Kogi APC primary

The senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi, and four others on April 27 asked the Federal High Court, Abuja, to cancel the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary in the state.

The plaintiffs are challenging the process in the suits marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/556/2023 and FHC/ABJ/ CS/557/2023 filed by Mr. Adekunle Otitoju on behalf of Adeyemi and Shuaibu Abubakar, the son of former governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu.

Other aspirants challenging the outcome of the primary are a former Minister of State for Education, Prof. Stephen Ocheni, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, Martala Ajaka, and Mr. Sanusi Ohiara.

The plaintiffs’ requests include “an order to invoke Section 177 of the Constitution, Section 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act and Article 20 of the APC constitution, to declare the primary poll invalid.”
“An order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to recognize Alhaji Ahmed Usman- Ododo as APC governorship candidate on the grounds that he emerged from an invalid primary election.”

Why it matters

The crisis arising from the primary election suggests the APC would approach the November 11 election as a fractured unit.

This does not bode well for a party that has lost a number of states in recent years to dispute over the shoddy management of primary elections by the party leadership.

By Hamed Shobiye

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