Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian with no political experience won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election Sunday, exit polls showed, dealing a stunning rebuke to the country’s political establishment.
Zelensky whose only previous political role was playing the president on television, trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko by taking 73 percent of the vote, according to exit polls conducted by several think tanks.
Poroshenko, who lost to the television star across all regions of the country, including in the west where he traditionally enjoyed strong support, has already called Zelensky to congratulate him.
In a series of tweets, he also said he would not quit politics yet.
“Never give up…. Never, never, never… Neither in the big nor in the small, nor in the a significant, nor in the shallow… Never give up if that doesn’t contradict honour and common sense.
“Already next month I will leave the post of head of state. So the majority of Ukrainians decided, and I perceive this decision. I will go from the office of President. But I do not go out of politics. Firmly want to declare and explain why.
“Our team will defend our course for the European Union and NATO membership. Because only in the world’s strongest collective security system, we can receive reliable protection from Russia, guarantee the independence of the country and the safety of citizens.
“Our team will be protecting visa-free. Our team will protect our army from mid-country attacks, from any attempts to diminish the historical significance of its exploit. Our team will protect the Ukrainian language. If the next week’s board adopts the law on language, I will definitely sign it.”
The election was an extraordinary outcome to a campaign that started as a joke but struck a chord with voters frustrated by poverty, corruption and a five-year war that has claimed some 13,000 lives.
The 41-year-old star of TV series “Servant of the People” will now take the helm of a country of 45 million people beset by challenges and having run on the vaguest of political platforms.
After taking the most votes in last month’s first-round election, Zelensky had enjoyed a strong lead over the 53-year-old Poroshenko going into Sunday’s poll.
Voting earlier in the capital Kiev, the beaming frontrunner had said his campaign managed to bring Ukrainians together.
“We have united Ukraine,” he said, wearing a casual suit with a t-shirt and accompanied by his wife. “Everything will be all right.”
Sparkling wine was on offer at his campaign headquarters as the star’s team prepared to toast his victory on Palm Sunday, a week before Orthodox Easter.
Preliminary results were expected in several hours but the same exit polls were accurate in the first round.
From Ukrainian-speaking regions in the west of the country to Russian-speaking territories in the war-torn east, many voters said they feared uncertainty but yearned for change.
“We’re tired of all the lies,” said Marta Semenyuk, 26, who cast her ballot for the comedian.
“I think it just cannot get any worse and I hope he’ll live up to his promises,” said Larisa, an 18-year-old student from the government-held eastern port city of Mariupol.
Zelensky’s victory opens a new chapter in the history of a country that has gone through two popular uprisings in the last 20 years and is mired in a conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in the east.
His supporters say only a fresh face can clean up Ukraine’s politics and end the separatist conflict.
But others doubt the showman will be able to take on the country’s influential oligarchs, negotiate with the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and stand up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
“People have gone mad,” Viktoriya Olomutska, a 39-year-old Poroshenko supporter, said in Kiev. “Cinema and reality are two different things.”
Buhari confirms the appointment of Mohammad Adamu as Police IG
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Mohammad Adamu as the Inspector General of Police.
According to Buhari’s aide on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, Adamu’s appointment was confirmed at the Police Council Meeting which held at the State House.
The meeting was presided over by Buhari.
Lawan, Ndume, Goje intensify Senate leadership battle
The battle for the Ninth President of the Senate has heightened with senators-elect involved in signatures drive for the three contenders – Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Danjuma Goje and the former Senate Leader Ali Ndume.
All the three camps have been overwhelmed by tally counting ahead of the election of principal officers in the next dispensation.
But the three contenders have kept their tallies under wraps while intensifying strategic sessions and lobbying of their colleagues across party divides.
Although Lawan group has adopted a one-on-one strategy in its final phase of the campaign, the PDP has initiated plot to give block vote. It was learnt that a former Abia deputy governor, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, has been coordinating the opposition group.
Investigation revealed that the inauguration of the Ninth National Assembly will hold on June 11 after the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, would have completed their tenure.
Saraki and Dogara will leave office on June 9, 2019, to end turbulent four-year tenure.
All the three contenders are locked in permutations with a collection of signatures of Senators-elect.
While APC senators-elect are trying to remain intact, some of the PDP senators-elect are opposed to block vote.
The opposition senators-elect met in the home of their coordinator, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, a few days ago to strategize ahead of the election of the principal officers of the Senate.
After the session, some of the senators-elect later had an audience with one of the principal officers of the Senate to brief him on the situation at hand.
PDP hits back at Tinubu
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of hauling insults at it to curry political relevance.
The main opposition party also faulted Tinubu’s recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Saudi Arabia where the party alleged that the APC leader hauled invectives and diatribes against the PDP
In a statement Tuesday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said through his actions Tinubu has further demonstrated that he has nothing to offer towards the development of the nation.
“It is atrocious that at the time other leaders are in the Holy Land offering prayers and supplications for our nation, Asiwaju Tinubu is in Mecca for photo-ops, playing dirty politics and hauling insults at other Nigerians just to curry relevance before President Buhari,” the statement said.
The party further noted nothing but sheer hypocrisy would push Asiwaju Tinubu to engage in “unholy praises of a failed administration” in desperation.
The statement said: “This is the same Asiwaju Tinubu, who, in January 2018, at the 15th Annual Daily Trust Dialogue, berated the Buhari administration for its nepotism, incompetence, corrupt oil subsidy regime; blaming it for the high-level poverty in our country and counseled Nigerians to be guided by their conscience in electing leaders in the 2019 general elections.
“Asiwaju, in criticizing the Buhari administration, held rightly that too much political and economic power resides in the hands of too few.
“This result in a society described by too much of unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, too little food, yet too much poverty.
“He then added correctly that under President Buhari, “rather than becoming a joyous nation, Nigeria has become a cruel playground where the fears and concerns of the average person get exploited but their interests never get promoted.”
“The PDP, therefore, lambasted Asiwaju Tinubu for making allusion to its determination with Nigerians to retrieve Atiku Abubakar’s stolen Presidential mandate at the court, adding that no amount of blackmail can detract from this resolve.”
INEC withdraws Certificates from lawmakers
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has so far withdrawn 25 Certificates of Return issued to some candidates that won during the 2019 general election, following court orders. Twenty of the 25 certificates of return were withdrawn from All Progressives Congress (APC) members to other APC members; while two from People Democratic Party (PDP) members were withdrawn and issued to other PDP members.
The Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Mr. Festus Okoye, said that the other three were withdrawn from APC and PDP; and given to other political parties. Okoye made the disclosure at a ‘Forum on Media Coverage of 2019 General Election’ held in Enugu yesterday and in a statement. The APC has lost one House of Representatives seat each to the PDP and Accord Party respectively, based on the order of the court. Also, the party lost a state constituency seat to the PDP. Okoye, in a statement yesterday, however, disclosed that there are still many cases still pending in various state and Federal High Courts arising from pre-election matters.
“The commission, pursuant to orders of court, is still updating the list of candidates that contested the 2019 elections or deemed to have contested the elections. “As at the 16th May 2019, INEC withdrew the certificates of return issued to 25 candidates of the different political parties in Nigeria and issued fresh ones to other candidates,” Okoye said. Based on the order of court, Okoye disclosed that the commission withdrew certificates of return from the APC candidates in Ekiti North federal constituency and Ehime-Mbano/Ihitte Uboma/Obowo federal constituency of Imo State and issued them to PDP and Accord Party respectively.
“In Darazo state constituency of Bauchi State, the commission withdrew the certificate of a candidate of the APC and issued to the candidate of the PDP,” he further explained. Okoye stated that the commission withdrew a certificate of return from APC senatorial candidate in Bauchi South senatorial district and issued to another APC candidate. “In Delta State, the commission withdrew the certificate of return issued to the candidate of the PDP in Delta North Senatorial District and issued to another candidate of the PDP.
“Before we left INEC national headquarters on Friday (May 17, 2019); the commission has withdrawn 25 certificates-of-return from the first owners to their new owners following court orders to do that,” he said. Speaking at the Enugu event, President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, said that the media and its practitioners enjoyed a vast and robust consultations and meetings with INEC before, during and after the elections. Isiguzo said that INEC performed creditably given the resources and length of cooperation from other stakeholders involved in the electoral processes. “However, we are here to evaluate the entire process and see where we can strengthen our engagement and better the electoral system,” he said. In his address, the Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Emeka Ononamadu, noted that evaluation of processes of the elections would help better the electoral processes as well as strengthen institutions and stakeholders involved in the entire processes.