Politics

Kaduna council polls: Victory for democracy, boost for unity – Governor El-Rufai

The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has given reasons why it appointed Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai as its Patron, the third it appointed since 2012.

The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, has described Saturday’s local government elections in the state as a victory for democracy.

He also said the peaceful elections will foster unity in the volatile state.

Mr El-Rufai stated this in a broadcast on Tuesday.

Competitive elections

The governor’s party, the APC, won 15 of the 17 chairmanship seats whose results have so far been declared, while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the other two.

The polls were postponed in four of the state’s 23 local government areas to September 25, over security concerns.

The governor, however, lost his polling unit of Unguwar Sarki in Kaduna North LGA to the opposition PDP.

But the APC also won in the home councils of top PDP chieftains, including former Vice President Namadi Sambo and former Governor Ahmed Makarfi.

Below is the full text of the governor’s broadcast.

With utmost humility, I wish to express profound gratitude to the people of Kaduna State for the largely peaceful and orderly conduct of the local government elections of 4th September 2021.

On behalf of the Kaduna State Government, I pay tribute to the residents of our state for their maturity and sophistication in exercising their democratic right to freely choose their leaders at the local level.

As Governor of Kaduna State, I have always taken the view that we all win when democracy triumphs. We congratulate all the winners in the local government elections and challenge them to use their period in office to serve the people, uphold democratic tenets and promote peace in our state. These local government elections have demonstrated that the APC government of Kaduna State stands resolutely for free and fair elections. We have placed the credibility and integrity of the electoral process above the discredited practice of previous governments that sought to win every contested seat by all means

I commend the people of Kaduna State for showing, for the second time, that there is no obstacle to the successful adoption of electronic voting technology in Nigeria. In 2021, the people of Kaduna State have repeated the conclusive argument first made in 2018 for our country as a whole to fully automate the voting process.

Voters in Kaduna State first made history on 12th May 2018 when they cast their ballots on electronic voting machines to elect chairmen and councillors for the 23 local government councils in our state. It is the participation of our people that have placed Kaduna State as the first in Nigeria to use electronic voting, the first subnational in Africa to do so and has also positioned Nigeria as only the second country in Africa after Namibia to use the technology.

The local government elections of 4th September 2021 further validate the Kaduna State Government’s decision to invest in Electronic Voting Machines to promote electoral integrity and transparency. Kaduna State is proudly upholding a new chapter in elections in Nigeria, using electronic voting technology, championed by a government that is determined to respect the outcome, win or lose.

As an elected governor, I welcome the successful impact on deepening democracy of the policy decision we took to adopt electronic voting. It is our hope that elected leaders at the local level will use their democratic mandates to advance the reforms we have introduced in local government administration in the interest of our people.

As the leader of the APC in Kaduna State, I wish to express fulsome gratitude to the people of Kaduna State for the support they gave our candidates during the local government elections. Our people again demonstrated with their votes that they recognise our efforts to empower them, to educate their children properly, to secure better healthcare for them and to return their priorities to the heart of government.

I am particularly pleased that our governance attainments and determined efforts to promote democracy are helping to further unity in our state. We welcome the results in the Kaduna South Senatorial District as a significant step in advancing political consensus in our state and overcoming division.

We are most grateful to the people of the Kaduna South Senatorial District whose votes have helped expand the APC’s footprint in the area. The voters have given the APC victory in four of the seven local governments where elections were conducted in southern Kaduna.

In addition to retaining Sanga and Kagarko which we won in 2018, the APC has won in Jema’a and Kauru local government councils. The unprecedented victory in Jema’a augurs well for advancing unity and commitment to common endeavours in the interest of unity, peace and progress in our state. It is an embrace that we do not take for granted. We accept it as a moment for opening new vistas, extending bridges and saying farewell to needless divisions.

This emphatic statement at the ballot box has shattered the unhelpful myth that any part of our state is an impregnable stronghold of any party. It has removed the baseless stereotyping of certain parties as ethnic bastions and religious vehicles. I call on all leaders and citizens in our state to cherish this moment and make it the beginning of an enduring rapprochement. I say to every part of Kaduna State that we can achieve much together if we put our minds and our hearts to it.

Once again, I thank all the people of Kaduna State. It is humbling and reassuring that after six years in office, our people find our record of service compelling enough to vote for us. Our opponents portrayed the local government elections as a referendum on the performance of our government. The people have repudiated the vain hopes of an entitled segment of the political elite that our people would punish us at the polls for taking consequential decisions in favour of ordinary people.

The people have spoken again, and their views resoundingly denounce the selfish claims of political merchants. They have rejected populist timidity as credible political behaviour in a state that seeks rapid and enduring progress.

Our party has won a great victory across the state. We salute those who voted for us. We did not win every local government, although we campaigned hard to do well everywhere. And having worked hard to make our case to the people, we respect the views of those who chose differently!

We have restored democracy at the local level. We have reformed the local government system, enabling them to deliver services at the grassroots and for the bankrupt ones to move to solvency. And we hope that the newly elected officials will run these councils in an inspiring, new way. The elected chairmen and councillors, of any party, assume a sacred obligation to deliver for the people, to move closer to realising the goal for which they were established. We are convinced that democratic governance at the local level must have a substantive, real impact on the lives of people.

I wish to put on record our gratitude for the efforts of Dr Saratu Dikko- Audu and her team at SIECOM for successfully repeating a revolution in election management in Nigeria. I thank the security agencies for providing a safe canopy for our people to joyfully exercise their democratic preferences.

However, we have sadly noted that those political forces that do not want free and fair elections tried to sabotage the process. We will investigate and prosecute those indicted.

As a government, we are grateful for this resounding endorsement. We do not have much time to savour the victory. We get back to work, to continue to do our best until the next elections.

God bless Kaduna State!

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!

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