By Ahmed Abubakar, Kaduna
General elections were held in Nigeria on 21 April 2007 to elect the President and National Assembly. Governorship and State Assembly elections had been held on 14 April.
Umaru Yar’Adua of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won the highly controversial presidential election, and was sworn in on 29 May. Election observers from the European Union described the elections as “the worst they had ever seen anywhere in the world”, with “rampant vote rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Abubakar ineligible to run due to fraud charges. A High Court had ruled that the commission could not disqualify candidates, but INEC claimed that the constitution barred candidates from running if indicted.Another superior court, the Court of Appeal, ruled in favour of the Electoral Commission by saying that it has powers to disqualify candidates. Abubakar attempted to get on the ballot via court challenge. In a case that came before the apex court, the court ruled that INEC has no constitutional powers to disqualify any candidates for the election, clearing the way for Abubakar to run. The Supreme Court, the country’s highest judicial body, confirmed this ruling and reaffirmed Abubakar’s candidacy.
Orji Uzor Kalu, a two term governor and candidate of the People’s Progressive Alliance vowed to end the perceived ‘peripherialization’ of his zone in the national journey – and in effect lead a new Nigeria.
Adebayo Adefarati, the candidate of the small Alliance for Democracy, died shortly before the election on 29 March 2007. This raised the possibility of the election being delayed, as the law provides for a delay under the circumstances if requested by the party that had nominated the candidate; however, a spokesman for INEC said that the election would not be delayed. He said that the party could nominate a replacement candidate.
Official figures on voter turnout were not released but the turnout was estimated at 57.5 percent of 61.5 million registered voters.
The first results to be released, from Rivers State, showed a large majority for Yar’Adua. On April 23, Yar’Adua was declared the winner by INEC, which said that he had received 70% of the vote( 24,638,063 votes). Buhari was in second place with 18% of the vote ( 7, 606, 772 votes),. Abubakar came third with 3, 266, 458 votes while Kalu came fourth with 1,458, 755 votes. Both Buhari and Abubakar rejected the results. The opposition candidates believe the election was rigged in Yar’Adua’s favor.
Outgoing president Olusegun Obasanjo stated in a televised address that the election “could not be described as perfect”.
Results, announced by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Maurice Iwu, were:
The results did not disclose the total votes scored in the states or the percentages of the scores by the presidential candidates.
Many years later , the same contenders are still in the ballot paper . Buhari continued to contest until he won in 2015 and 2019 respectively. Abubakar who later decamped from the ruling All Progressive Congress to the opposition party , People’s Democratic Party contested again in 2019 and lost . Kalu won senate election in 2019 and was appointed Chief Whip of the Senate.
Permutations for 2023 elections are gearing up with rumors of Abubakar and Kalu contesting again . Abubakar is a Northerner and Kalu is a Southerner.
Nigeria, a country with geopolitical sentiments would likely not allow a Northerner lead the country after Buhari’s tenure . In such situations, Kalu and other eligible candidates from the South may need to battle for the presidential seat .