Supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Monday, stormed the streets of Abuja in protest against calls for an interim government after President Muhammadu Buhari’s exit on May 29.
The protesters under the auspices of The Natives staged what they termed as a peaceful walk, just as they cautioned opposition parties and their candidates in Nigeria to kill the thought of an interim government when a democratic government had been elected and was waiting to be sworn in.
According to the The Natives, the spirit of June 12 was still hovering around Nigeria seeking for justice on the stolen mandate of the late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, hence there must not be a repeat of such injustice.
The pro-Tinubu supporters, who marched to the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also declared support for continued stay in office of the commission’s chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu.
A Leader of the Natives, Smart Edwards, who led the protest, implored the international community and all Nigerians of all tribes and race to allow democracy to grow by declaring their support for the president-elect.
He said, “No mandate was stolen. It was either you (opposition parties) did not network with your people and Nigerians well, or your people did anti-party against you. Today we have witnessed PDP suspending its National Chairman, the man who campaigned for the party, that’s also a democracy.
“It is our turn, the Natives of Nigeria, to see a better Nigeria. It is our turn to see a working Nigeria. It is our turn to see a democracy that works. It is our turn to advance the country as Patriots.
“Today, we are declaring absolutely that no mandate was stolen. INEC performed creditably and the election was free and fair. The election saw NNPP win in Kano state, APC though challenging the outcome but has decided to go to court, that’s democracy. PDP won election in Rivers, Enugu, Taraba, Delta, Plateau states and others, and an APC candidate in Plateau has congratulated the winner. His party may choose to proceed to Court; that’s democracy.
“In Benue, the APC has a Reverend Father who won election overwhelmingly against the incumbent, that’s democracy. We saw Peter Obi win an election in Lagos state against the Landlord, that’s democracy.
“We saw Labour Party win an election in FCT Abuja, that’s democracy. We saw an Okada man win election in Kaduna state, that’s democracy. We saw a woman almost winning an election in Adamawa, but was declared inconclusive, that’s democracy.”
On the call for interim government by a protesting group recently, Edwards said, “Those calling for interim government are jokers because when Shonekan was brought in in the past the people rejected it. Africa’s base for democracy is Nigeria. We have Goodluck Jonathan who is a symbol of democracy; we had late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, he was a symbol of democracy; we have General Gowon who is also a symbol of democracy. Other Nations in Africa are learning from Nigeria.
“So, what I am saying is that the Natives of Nigeria are of all tribes and colouration, it is impossible for anybody to attempt an interim government. President Muhammadu Buhari has spoken clearly and that’s why we came out today in solidarity of what the President said that he will hand over to Asiwaju Tinubu.”
The protesters said Nigerians from different tribes and races all voted, just like they, The Natives of Nigeria, of all tribes and of all races, even as they urged aggrieved opposition to seek redress in court.
Edward continued: “So, Please I appeal let’s balance our emotions with Progressiveness. Let’s banish bigotry wherever it is found, whether in the East, West, South or North. Let us work together and I also call on all parties to sheath their swords and proceed to Court if they are still aggrieved or allow it to be.
“We are telling the opposition parties and their supporters that in the National Assembly we are seeing six different parties who won elections and will form the 10th Assembly, that’s democracy. I tell you, there are Senators who lost their seats; there are governors who lost election.
“What we are saying is that the International community should ensure that Nigeria which is their base point to Africa and the world should be supported to grow its democracy.
“The people who were injured during these elections are Nigeria citizens. They are also Natives. We are calling on the opposition, particularly we want to correct the erroneous view of Peter Obi’s running mate Datti Ahmed that there is no President-elect. If he had said that in the days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he would never appear in public again, but this is a government that supports democracy.
“We call on everybody, whether the young people who are hurt or the APC which is also hurt, or PPD who is hurt, or LP, NNPP and others, to allow peace to reign and be patriotic. The elections are over, but the elections are still in Court, please give Nigeria a chance to grow.”
On call for the removal of INEC chairman, Edward said, “Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is not going anywhere. This same man conducted the election where NNPP won, Labour Party won, PDP also won in some states.
“The spirit of June 12 is upon us, by June 12 this year it will be 30 years. The same military that truncated democracy that time in Agbada led by President Muhammadu Buhari has recognised this election. We believe that MKO Abiola’s soul will rest in peace on the day Bola Ahmed Tinubu takes over from President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I am also appealing in the name of the Almighty God to all Nigerians to please give peace a chance. We cannot continue to protest on the streets every day.
“We will be marching to INEC headquarters to tell the Commission that no mandate was stolen. Asiwaju won the election and it remained so. Only the Tribunal and Supreme Court can change the decision of INEC.”
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