A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, on Wednesday, urged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, not to approach the Election Petition Tribunal over his loss of the February 23 presidential elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday morning declared President Muhammadu Buhari the winner of the election.
Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat Abubakar who scored 11,262,978 votes.
Shortly after the announcement, Abubakar rejected the result of the poll as declared by INEC saying it was unacceptable to him. He said he would challenge it in court.
However, in a statement sent to newsmen, Agbakoba advised the former vice president to avoid going to court. He said Abubakar is in a strong position to take up the mantle of a statesman in the country by avoiding litigation over the election.
He urged the defeated candidate not to lose sight of the legacy and greatness that lies in front of him despite the outcome of the result.
”I understand the PDP is aggrieved about the outcome of the election and alleged massive irregularities but I urge former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, not to approach the Election Petition Tribunal,” Agbakoba said.
”This is not to say I do not recognise the massive irregularities in the 2019 Presidential Election. I can see how tempting it is to take the option of the Election Petition Tribunal but that in my view is not the right decision.”
He also advised Abubakar to take up the opportunity and build a third force in the polity, as a counterpoise to the APC and PDP which have won all general elections in Nigeria since 1999.
”He might have moved backwards by his loss but he should not lose sight of the legacy and greatness that lies in front of him. He can build a new Nigeria movement from the motley of small parties, third force actors, change actors and millions who are desperate for a strong, united Nigeria,” the senior lawyer and activist said.
”There is also a lot of work to be done in both political and electoral reforms. I request former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to step into the shoes. he added.
According to him, the 2019 presidential election was marred by ethnicity. He observed that President Buhari kept his base in the North while Abubakar held his base in the South. He said the politics of the South-west ”occurred on the basis of issues”
According to him, both the APC and the PDP benefited from ”primordial voting.”
”The voting pattern for the 2019 Presidential Election shows ethnicity played a significant role in the Election. President Muhammadu Buhari kept his base in the North while former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, largely held his base in the South.
”Both All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) benefited from primordial voting. The excepted zone is the South-west where voting occurred on the basis of issues.”