Up to the time Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was announcing the results of the March 28 presidential election on Wednesday, fear of uncertainty engulfed the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari.
However, it was not a fear occasioned by any conceivable loss of the election because with the result already trickling in the previous day, the camp knew the APC was coasting home to victory. But it was the uncertainty that President Goodluck Jonathan, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, would reject the results and invoke a military intervention to stop Buhari from ascending to the presidency.
The otherwise, after all, smacked a big surprise to APC, Buhari and his campaign organization.
And for conceding defeat and subsequently calling to congratulate the president-elect even before the last result was officially announced, Jonathan did not only carve a niche for himself but also launched into the community of patriots and statesmen.
These were thoughts expressed by the Director, Media and Publicity Directorate of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organization, APCPCO, Mallam Garba Shehu, in Abuja.
Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, Shehu, who was central to the election of Buhari by way of information dissemination and management, said that the campaign was the fiercest he had ever witnessed since he debuted into partisan politics.
He said: “I can say that the President acted with grace. He surprised us because we never expected that they would accept defeat. In fact, the sense everyone had was that they probably had plan A, B, C or D. And in any case, with the kind of thing that Mr. Orubebe did at the collation center, you knew that even when the President had grace, given the chance with the community of people around him, they could have threatened this democracy.
“Look, I have been involved in presidential campaigns about three or four times in the past, the difference is that this is the most fearful campaign that I have ever experienced. This is the most life threatening campaign because we were dealing with opponents we thought would stop at nothing because they were throwing everything into it.
“So, we were not taking anything for granted. It affected our lives. Would you see me in a night club? You couldn’t risk it because you didn’t even know who was trailing you. And it came as a huge relief.
“Again, we were getting security reports from our own sources. Until the President said ‘I concede’ and congratulated Buhari, we felt every minute that something wrong would happen. There was a clear and discernible threat to democracy as a system of government.
“Look, everyone felt concerned because, what if, God forbid, he declared a coup? These scenarios had been laid before Nigerians. Mr. Okupe, the Special Adviser to the President, was he not on Youtube, recorded on video, saying that Buhari will never become President? What do you take that for? It means that Buhari would win and they will take it away from him.
“This careless talk, arrogant display of power, it had come from the Villa. Many sources with linkages to power: Asari-Dokubo, Chief E.K. Clark and all of them, were they not sounding words to the President? They had said it that they would take away their part of the country from Nigeria if Buhari won.
“But for the President to have come and say ‘I accept accept defeat as the leader of the country’; that had an effect of really calming things down. And that’s why, whether they like it or not, President Jonathan has written his name in gold in so far as this is concerned.”
Shehu assured that the president-elect would not avenge the attacks on his person by the allies of Jonathan, saying there was enough work to do to meet the aspirations of Nigerians than pursuing mundane things.