President Goodluck Jonathan may have prevailed on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to challenge President-elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in last Saturday’s election.
Instead of planning a case for the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, the Presidency will raise a Transition Committee on Tuesday, a source told The Nation yesterday.
Vice President-elect Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is likely to head the All Progressives Congress (APC) team which will join the committee ahead of the May 29 transition.
Ministers have started preparing their handover notes, it was also learnt.
It was gathered that although some PDP stalwarts wanted Buhari’s victory challenged at the tribunal, the President thought otherwise.
The party stalwarts, it was said, believe that some irregularities in some states are strong enough to upturn the final results of the election, which was hailed at home and abroad as substantially credible. Jonathan, it was learnt, said it made no sense —contesting Buhari’s victory— after he had conceded defeat.
It was learnt that the PDP leaders referred to the electoral scenario in Ekiti where the All Progressives Congress(APC) went to tribunal despite the acceptance of defeat by ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi.
The President, however, stood his ground that he would rather stand by his statesmanship attitude than going to tribunal.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The President has prevailed on PDP to drop plans to go to tribunal against Buhari. He said he wants his word to be his bond, having been applauded by the international community.
“At a point, Jonathan said ‘I don’t believe in post-election petition at tribunal because it distracts the incoming administration’.
“He also said Nigeria must emulate other nations where once the presidential poll is lost and won, the new government must not be distracted with election petitions.
“He told party leaders that he was not interested in going to the tribunal. It is now left for PDP leaders to heed his advice.
“So as at Thursday, the government’s position is that the PDP should not go to tribunal.”
Stating the PDP’s position on the elections in a statement yesterday, Chairman Adamu Mu’azu, said: “We have received reports of serious irregularities that characterized the conduct of the election and we shall channel our protests to the appropriate quarters in line with our profound respect for the rule of law and democratic ethos.”
He did not say whether the party would go to the tribunal but added: “What is paramount to us is the survival of our democracy, the unity, peace and progress of our dear nation and the happiness of all our people. Nigeria is bigger than any political party, individual or group and her overall interest must be our priority at all times.”
The President in 2010 at the 15th summit of the African Union (AU) in Kampala, Uganda described post-election litigation as a major distraction to governance.
Jonathan said: “It is inconvenient to already be in office and be thinking about election litigation.
“The essence of the immunity clause in the constitution is that if a president or a governor takes an oath of office, he should sit down and concentrate on the job and when he leaves office, he could be prosecuted for any offence.
“But because of the way we conduct our elections, the president who sits in office is still battling and being distracted with election issues, and it affects us.”
The transition committee is likely to be constituted next week.
Another source added: “The Presidency is working on a seamless transition from Jonathan’s administration to Buhari’s. The details are being worked out.”
“I think by next week, the picture of the transition committee will emerge. The government is working early on the transition because it involves a lot of work.
“The APC team will have to collaborate with the committee and ask questions if there are grey areas.”
Meanwhile, Ministers have started compiling their handover notes, which will be part of the integral aspect of the report of the transition committee.