Nigerian women on Friday had a two million woman rally in Abuja to appeal to Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last election to congratulate his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress to concede defeat.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Buhari of the APC winner of the keenly contested having scored the highest votes.
However, Atiku has vowed to go to court, alleging that he was rigged.
The women, under the aegis of Two Million Woman Rally for Democracy in Nigeria, Peace and Stability kick-started their match at the Unity Fountain down to Hilton Area before proceeding to the Force headquarters, Eagle Square and back to Unity Fountain.
They called on Atiku to emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan and congratulate Atiku on his victory.
Speaking during the rally, the convener, Mary Onuche, called on Atiku to save Nigeria from anarchy and embrace his brother.
Onuche also called on Buhari not to disappoint Nigerians who have overwhelmingly voted him for another term.
See her speech below.
With this configuration in mind, the foremost opposition candidate in the election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to shy away from playing this role. This requires that he is seen, ab initio, as putting the interest of Nigeria first, a requirement that has been made even more important by unscrupulous persons waiting in the wings to exploit any contentions over the polls to their own dark advantage.
Fortunately for Nigeria, our democracy, though still young, has continued to evolve in ways that reassure us that things can only get better. One such leap is the development in 2015 when the then President Goodluck Jonathan called to congratulate the then winner of the presidential election, incumbent President Buhari, even before the votes’ tally was completed. That singular act of patriotism is today hailed as the benchmark of the level of statesmanship befitting of candidates in our elections. May God bless President Goodluck Jonathan, the hero of our modern democracy.
This has become a modern democratic culture in Nigeria for which former President Jonathan will continue to receive accolades. Had he acted contrary at that time, perhaps democratic growth in Nigeria might have been stunted or even truncated.
But thankfully he set the benchmark, a standard that we today expect from anyone that takes part in the presidential election.
We therefore call on Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to emulate the statesmanship of President Jonathan and quit his on-going disruptive stance on the election. There has been series of calls on him to call and congratulate President Buhari as the winner of the election, which would infer that he would by consequence give up any legal challenge of the election result. We are tempted to align with the first half of this demand that Atiku calls President Buhari to offer his congratulations but we will not suggest that he forfeits his right to seeking judicial redress. He is very free to approach the courts to ventilate his grievances.
What is unacceptable, however, is the adoption of positions and making of utterances that are being interpreted by his supporters and party members as a call to violence. We have become aware that his supporters are strategizing for violent protests that they are targeting to cause chaos nationwide and bring down the government. Some of Atiku’s lieutenants and political associates are subtly encouraging such protests through comments they have been making in the mainstream media and their social media accounts.
The hostile environment being created by Atiku’s stance has been made even tenser by his reported demands on President Buhari, made through the National Peace Committee. Such behaviour suggests an opposition that has transmuted into a dictatorship, one that is hell-bent on blackmailing the country to impose itself on the people when it has been clearly rejected at the polls. This is not acceptable at a time when Nigerians expect that anyone that aspired to govern the country would at the very least imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship championed by former President Jonathan.
Our democracy comes first before the personal fixations of any politician. We insist that the peace accord signed by political parties and their candidates, including Atiku must be respected .
Nigeria truly deserves peace and stability at this point in time, which is why we are holding this “Two Million Woman Rally for Democracy in Nigeria” to demand for national stability and peace in Nigeria.
While we remain apolitical, we are encouraged by the assessment of international election observation missions, which in-spite of their earlier tilt in favour of Atiku prior to the election, have come out to declare that the conduct and the outcome of the poll was satisfactory to them. We suggest that Atiku takes time to slow down and listen to his foreign allies who have now concluded that even the Parallel Vote Tabulation they used as control showed that the PDP candidate was fairly defeated.
We use this opportunity to passionately appeal to President Buhari that Nigerians did not repose their confidence in him for nothing. The second term they have given him in office should not become a basis for miscreants to destabilize the country in the guise of protesting for their candidate that fairly lost in an election. While Mr. President must continue to urge his supporters to be civil in their jubilation at his victory and contemplative of the tasks ahead, members of the opposition must also be reminded that Nigeria has laws and the law enforcement agencies must be so instructed.
Once again, we want to appeal to our father and friend, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to do the needful now. Pick up the phone and call President Buhari let’s sustain the peace and stability of our nation.