APC Well Equipped For Victory, Did Not Manipulate Presidential Elections – Fashola
By: Abdullahi Ahmad Bamalli
Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Minister of Works and Housing, has denied some allegations that the All Progressive Congress (APC) rigged the February 25, 2023, presidential election, which was won by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In lieu, he attributed the APC’s victory comes in line with the proper preparation and the active participation of Nigerian youth in the election.
He said, “I think Nigerians had a public source of snippets of what our situation room looks like, and which other party has that kind of situation room?”
Last night, featuring on Channel TV Sunday Politics, the minister spoke about alleged falsifications by the opposition about electoral fraud in the presidential election, Fashola said “we did in 2015, 2019 and I was privileged to be part of the party’s campaigns in 2019 and in 2023.
On Tinubu’s strategy against Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Fashola, who headed the Election Planning Directorate of the Tinubu-Shettima Campaign Council, said the party trained 2,000 agents from all the states and sent them back to the states to train the agents in their respective states.
“Some of the young people came from the United States to campaign for Tinubu,” he said, adding that the party knew its results from the situation room before the final declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Behind what I headed were a lot of young people, everything was done by young people, I was just held in front as a head which I took credit for, but all the work was done by the young people. They were using data, mapping, calling agents and training agents. So, we trained 2,000 agents across the 36 states of the federation, we could not train 176,846 agents to man all polling units.”
The minister said the youth movement within the APC worked tirelessly to ensure that every Nigerian citizen was given a fair and equal opportunity to vote.
He emphasised the importance of the youths’ involvement in the political process and their contributions to the success of the party.
Fashola expressed satisfaction with the new trend in Nigerian politics, where young people are playing more active roles in shaping the country’s future.
The minister said, “The youth population in Nigeria is estimated to be around 60 percent of the total population, and this demographic has been increasingly vocal in their demand for better governance, economic opportunities and social justice.
“The role of young people in Nigerian politics has not gone unnoticed, with the government taking steps to encourage their participation. The Not Too Young To Run Bill signed into law in May 2018, lowered the age limit for presidential candidates from 40 to 35 and for governorship candidates from 35 to 30, opening up the political space for young people,” he said.
Fashola said he had been in government when he was 39.
The minister admitted that despite the renewed efforts, challenges still remained, including the high cost of running for an elective office and the lack of access to political power for marginalised groups, including women and people with disabilities.
“There is also a need for greater accountability and transparency in the electoral process, with concerns raised about voter suppression, electoral violence, and the use of state resources to manipulate the outcome of elections,” he stated.
Fashola also said that Nigerians are inseparable beyond religion and ethnicity and should “wear the trousers of adults and maturity after the polls.”
He said, “I think that we are too joined at the hip to allow disagreements over elections fester. There are too many places where we are connected. I tell people, for example, that if you are talking ethnic issues, my first cousin is Lois Ganiu Okafor and I have another cousin, Fola Okeke, God bless her soul. So, which one of them do I dislike?
“I think that some of the rhetoric went the wrong way and I think everybody should wear the trousers of adults in the room now and I think that is already taking place and tempers are coming down. Sometimes we can be extreme when there is competition. I think as it goes on, maturity will come in.”