Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday challenged security operatives to go after the miscreants that used violence to disrupt the governorship and state assembly elections in some areas and undermined Nigeria’s democratic process.
This is as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, berated the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the general election.
However, a former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), charged the candidates who contested the governorship and state House of Assembly elections to accept the results in good faith.
Jonathan also urged them to be professional by maintaining law and order and ensuring perpetrators of violence are brought to book.
Jonathan, who spoke after casting his ballot at his Otuoke polling unit in Bayelsa State, where only the House of Assembly election took place, also condemned the violence and voter suppression recorded in some parts of the state and other parts of the country.
The former president noted that Nigeria has been recording progress in her democratic journey, adding that miscreants should not be allowed to undermine the gains.
He said: “Nobody should be allowed to mess up our electoral system. Those kinds of criminal acts took place in the past, but the country is moving forward, and some criminals cannot push us backward. The world is watching Nigeria, and we cannot allow criminal elements to push us backward,” he explained.
Jonathan expressed concern over the reported crisis in the State Constituency Two in the Anyama part of Ogbia in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, where miscreants allegedly burned election materials.
He called for the arrest and prosecution of the troublemakers, stressing that: “The police must arrest all those involved and prosecute them. If the police fail to do so, I will be highly disappointed. The world is watching Nigeria.”
Speaking on the voting process and his experience with the voting exercise, Jonathan said: “Judging from my voting unit, election materials arrived earlier today than three weeks ago, and if that reflects in 70 – 80 percent of the country, then we will be very happy that INEC is improving in terms of the early arrival of voting materials.
Speaking further, Jonathan commended all Nigerians for their commitment and resilience in the 2023 elections cycle, beginning from their interest during the voter registration exercise sustained up to the primaries and days of voting.
He said: “I believe that Nigerians have decided that we must all participate in selecting our leaders. Any country where the ballot paper cannot help the leadership selection process is doomed. We must run a system where the ballot, not the courts, will decide who leads us, either at the levels of the president, the governor, council leaders, or parliamentarians.”
Jonathan also debunked a recent report, which alleged that he asked those not satisfied with the outcome of elections not to seek redress in courts, stressing that the legal system is part of our democratic process, which helps to check the excesses of politicians and the errors and misconduct of the electoral umpire.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku, has berated INEC for the conduct of the general election.
Shortly after casting his voting at about 11:25a.m. at his Ajiya Ward polling units 012 in Yola North, Adamawa State, Atiku said he has no confidence in the exercise and scored the commission below expectations.
The former vice president said he was disappointed at INEC because it has not taken any step to improve on its performance since the conduct of the recent presidential and National Assembly elections.
On his part, a former military Head of State, Abdulsalami, has charged the candidates who contested the governorship and state House of Assembly elections to accept the results in good fate.
Abdulsalami stated this shortly after casting his ballot at the Uphill Polling Unit in Minna, Niger State
The former military leader, also the Chairman of the National Peace Committee, said, “so far, the elections seem to be free and fair.”
“So far, from what I have seen, everything is going smoothly. I was captured within a minute. I hope everything goes peacefully,” he added.
He commented on the alleged poor voter turnout and said he could not confirm emphatically “since I have not gone around to see things for myself.”
“I have not gone around, but it should be expected because people get tired of voting; I hope it will be peaceful throughout,” he added.
Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Laleye Dipo in Minna and Daji Sani in Yola