The Head, Media and Communications of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Diran Onifade, speaks with AYOOLA OLASUPO about the issues arising from the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections
Your party disagreed with the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the presidential election, are you confident that decision could still be overturned, given the upset people say it might cause?
Yes, that is why the law says that if you have genuine reasons to believe that you have been cheated in an election, you should go to the tribunal. That is the law and we are law-abiding people. You know we have a case so we will argue the case before the judges and we are very optimistic that they will see reasons with us because we think we have been cheated. Justice is a condition for peace and injustice is a quick condition for the lack of peace. Justice cannot lead to the breakdown of peace in fact it is injustice that can lead to that.
The APC has maintained that it won the election, PDP has said the same and LP is also claiming victory, what makes you think it will go your way?
INEC did not follow its rules, and every political party has an idea of what is called invalid election because of the way INEC organised it. Every political party has the results. The scores at the polling units were not what were used to declare the winner. It was something else. So, we are confident of victory, going by the real results from the election.
During the collation of results by INEC, the spokesperson for the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Ndi Kato, raised the alarm over manipulation of results and that some persons were rewriting the results, what did you witness?
We all saw it. The results that were submitted to the situation room by the polling agents of each political party were different from what INEC used. What was eventually used to collate in many cases were different. We have been seeing on the Internet copies of results that were supposedly uploaded and how the results were tampered with. The exercise was okay at the level of voting but the collation was something else. That was because of the gaps INEC left. That election was a mess.
In the history of Nigeria, the Supreme Court has never nullified the election of a president, no matter how flawed the election was. What makes you think that would change this time round?
There is always a first time. Maybe they never had reasons to do so in the past but there is always a first time. I mean it was the first time when Peter Obi was impeached as governor, he went back to court and fought his impeachment when he was cheated and after three years the court ruled in his favour. So, there is always a first time. What happened in this election was too glaring. The whole world saw it. The level of observation was unprecedented. There is a plethora of evidence. This was daylight robbery. They were robbing in the presence of everybody because the world was seeing it.
Some people have claimed that Mr Peter Obi could not have won the election because he doesn’t have as much support in the North as he does in the South, what do you make of that argument?
This was their permutation during the election, and they will be surprised. They were saying that we didn’t have structure and that there were just four people tweeting in a room. At the end of the day, in spite of all the shenanigans, the difference between him and the people they declared as winner of the election was just two million votes. They have been saying that he (Peter Obi) does not have structure but how does somebody who does not have structure come that close with APC and PDP in a national election? We came to Lagos and beat the godfather of Lagos politics. They couldn’t even tamper with that. Well, what is the structure anyway? A structure of criminality they have put together to perpetrate themselves in power to permanently superintend over our common wealth and to permanently keep to themselves the resources that belong to over 200 million people. We won the election and we will present the evidence before the court. Peter Obi shook Nigeria without structure.
The refusal of INEC to upload results has been identified as a major flaw in the election, but INEC tied it to glitches it experienced. Do you think what happened was a sabotage, an unavoidable error or the commission wasn’t well prepared?
They probably knew what they were doing because in this day and age so many other people are using this same network for their businesses and it does not jam. The number of people active on the network you used to call me at this particular time are more than the number of locations where results were being uploaded on that Saturday and the technology takes care of this call. How come technology didn’t take care of that one? How come there were no glitches when they were uploading House of Representatives and senatorial results, but when it got to the presidential election, there were glitches? Come on, we are not fools!
As someone who had interest in the election, what did you find most disturbing about the conduct of the election?
This would have been the best election in the history of Nigeria in the sense that the organisation was orderly, the voters had more information and were better educated about the process than ever. The voters and electoral officials, to a large extent, were well prepared and everybody knew what they were doing. Things went well until the point of collation. What your rule says is that polling unit results will be uploaded to the portal but that was not done. People protested but the INEC chairman said we should conclude the process and then we will review it. He concluded the process without reviewing, went ahead to declare the winner and that review has not happened till today. How does a man promise as much as Prof Mahmood Yakubu did without keeping his promise? He told the whole world that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System would be a gamechanger, but what did we see?
As a party that is gradually having some influence in national politics, is there a move by the Labour Party to galvanise all those who won on the party’s platform for some synergy and unity of purpose as they prepare to assume their respective offices?
Of course, if you noticed, some days ago, Peter Obi had dinner with those that won both the senatorial and House of Representative seats and that exercise is going to continue.
There were reports that the Labour Party hired about 25 Senior Advocates of Nigeria to challenge Tinubu’s emergence at the court. Is it true they offered their services free of charge or they will be paid?
I think the question needs to be answered by the lawyers because this is not the first time lawyers work pro bono. It is consistent with their professional tasks. I don’t think there is anything fishy in them working pro bono.