Presidential poll: Opposition foresees runoff, plots PDP's defeat-Investigation

THE PUNCH Newspaper

There were indications on Friday that the three major opposition parties in the country had mapped out plans to confront the Peoples Democratic Party if a clear winner did not emerge in the April 9, 2011 presidential election.

Countrywide investigations by SATURDAY PUNCH showed that the Congress for Progressive Change, the Action Congress of Nigeria and the All Nigeria Peoples Party might present a joint candidate in the event of a runoff.

Although all the three parties believe they can win the presidential election, they have not foreclosed the possibility of an alliance if there is a runoff.

According to Section 134 (2) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution, for a candidate to be declared the winner of a presidential election, they must score the highest number of votes and not less than one-quarter of the votes in each of at least two-thirds of all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

If no candidate is duly elected in accordance with the section, the constitution requires that there shall be “a second election between the candidate that has the highest number of votes and one among the remaining candidates, who has a majority of votes in the highest number of states.”

Investigations showed that the opposition parties had agreed in principle to work hard to ensure that the PDP did not win the required number of votes in 24 states, which is two-thirds of 36 states.

It was gathered that the parties were banking on the strength of the CPC to prevent the PDP from getting the required number of votes in the North-West, which has 18.9 million voters.

It was learnt that the opposition parties were of the view that with the influence of the ACN in the South-West, which has a record of 14.2m votes, the ruling party’s influence in the zone would be checked.

Investigations showed that the parties were banking on the ANPP to do well in Kano State, where its presidential candidate, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, comes from and is believed to be strong after being governor there for two straight terms of eight years.

When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said, “We’re campaigning to win. In politics, nothing is impossible. If there is the need for us to work with anybody, the party (ACN) will work it out.

“If there is a runoff, the parties may now unite and support the candidate that has the highest number of votes among Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of the ACN and Shekarau of the ANPP. But for now, we have agreed to be vigilant and ensure that there is no rigging.”

The spokesman for the CPC presidential candidate, Mr.Yinka Odumakin, had in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, said that the party would form a voter vigilance group to prevent rigging.

Although Buhari’s running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, expressed confidence that the CPC would win the presidential poll at the first ballot, in an interview with one of our correspondents, he said the opposition parties would form an alliance if there was a runoff.

He said, “People are already talking about a runoff, but we will win at the first ballot. But where we don’t win, we have assurances from various quarters that they will support our bidding. There might be an alliance when everyone is settled because everyone is trying to prove his political mettle.”

But the Director of Media and Publicity of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation, Mr. Abba Dabo, said on the telephone on Friday that the President’s team was not in anyway disturbed by the possibility of a merger arrangement between the ACN and the CPC.

Dabo said that the President’s men were sure of winning the election at first ballot as shown by the achievements recorded in the ongoing presidential campaigns.

He said that their campaign tour of the North showed in clear terms that the Jonathan/Sambo team had made a remarkable progress in reaching out to Northern voters.

According to him, Jonathan and his running mate, Vice-President Namadi Sambo have had a very warm reception even in the states of the North-West geopolitical zone, which were considered to be a little problematic before the commencement of the campaigns.

Dabo said that those nursing the idea of a merger between the CPC and the ACN were jittery because of the new grounds being broken by the PDP in the ongoing campaigns.

He said that as the largest political party in the country, the PDP would intensify its campaigns across Nigeria to convince Nigerian voters on the need to cast their votes for the Jonathan/Sambo team.

He said that while the CPC was a new political party, the ACN was not exactly different, having gone through a lot of changes and supposed reforms.

He said, “We are not concerned about such merger discussions. We believe we’re going to win outrightly at the first ballot. They are afraid and that was the reason they wanted to come together in the first place but you can see that they couldn’t.

“We have made a significant incursion into the North, a tremendous one in the North-West. The President had a fantastic outing in Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, and in virtually all the states there.

“You can see that they are jittery because of the progress we’re making in the campaigns and that is why they blame everything that happens in the country on us.

“And because of the recorded achievements in the campaigns, we sent out a statement in which we thanked the people for their cooperation and support for us.

“In fact, we have always believed that there are challenges to address in the North-West, but even in that region, the Jonathan/Sambo team and the PDP have been able to achieve such a warm level of reception.”


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