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.”
1999 Constitution is a fair constitution – President Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has described the 1999 Constitution as fair to all segments of the country.
To justify his position, Buhari cited the fact that each of the 36 states must have a minister representing it in the cabinet.
He also noted that it was for the same reason that Bayelsa, a small state with only eight local governments, would have three senators in the National Assembly, compared to a big state like Kano with 44 local governments, also having three senators.
Buhari spoke in Abuja when members of the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group visited him at the Presidential Villa.
The group, which was led by the National Coordinator, Usman Ibrahim, was one of the many groups that worked for the re-election of Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo during the February 23 presidential poll.
The President said, “The Constitution facilitates one thing; that there must be a member of the (Federal) Executive Council from each state of the federation.
“Why I praise the authors of our constitution is that Bayelsa with eight local governments has three senators and Kano with 44 (local governments) has three senators. So, you can’t be fairer than that in the context of one Nigeria.
“Please, try and understand that I appreciate you, you are doing a thankless job; nobody is paying you. You use your resources and time to come together and discuss national issues. I pray God will help us to keep this country strong economically and morally.”
He informed the group that his administration was determined to provide safety to all Nigerians, wherever they reside.
“As leaders in your various communities, I urge you all to take the message back to your communities. It is not about politics, religion or tribe, it is about having a Nigeria where our families will be safe and our children will have plenty opportunities to earn a living and have a comfortable life.”
Earlier, Ibrahim recounted the sacrifices the group made to ensure Buhari won the election, saying there were instances where the members were attacked, while its coordinator in Kwara State paid the supreme price.
He said the members did their work without asking for any financial support from the President, adding that it was because they believed in Buhari to rescue Nigeria.
He added that the group was blessed with many professionals, who could render their services to the administration if given the mandate to do so.
“We, therefore, request that you give consideration to this noble men and women and we promise that we will never let you down,” Ibrahim told Buhari.
Abia state governor debunks being sick
The governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has debunked the news making rounds that he is sick and incapable of performing his official duties.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka, Ikpeazu said that he is hale and hearty, and discharging the duties of the office of Governor of Abia State with zeal, zest, and passion, as he has done since 2015.
According to Ememanka, Ikpeazu had a busy schedule on Friday attending to a long line of official visitors who came to Government House Umuahia.
“Those carrying the rumor that the Governor is sick and bedridden are political fifth columnists and agents of destabilization whose stock in trade is to spin rumor mills and trade on falsehood.
“The unfortunate news they have been spreading exist only in their disjointed imaginations.
“The good people of Abia State are advised to completely disregard these agents of confusion and their evil machinations.
“Your Governor is in a perfect state of health and is prepared to challenge any of those spreading the rumor to a game of soccer,” the statement concluded
Senate confirms Abubakar as commissioner of NCC
The Senate has approved the nomination of Aliyu Saidu Abubakar as non-executive commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Abubakar who is to represent the Northeast geopolitical zone in the commission was rejected in 2016 when Senator Bukola Saraki was the Senate President.
Also confirmed are Eng Uba Maska, executive commissioner (North West) for reappointment, Professor Millionaire Abowei, non-Executive director (South South) and Abdulazeez Mohammed Salman (North Central).
Southwest governors rebuke Northern elders
Governors in southwest states, on Friday, reacted to a statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), asking persons of Fulani extraction, resident in the southern part of the country, to return to the north. They described the claim as most unfortunate, divisive and retrogressive.
A statement personally signed by the forum’s chairman and the Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said, “With no intention to engage anyone, it is incumbent on us, as elected representatives of our people in the southwest region of the country, to denounce this divisive and retrogressive statement in the strongest terms possible.
Akeredolu said, “It is appalling, to assert the least, that the tragic incident, which claimed the life of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere, would be used by certain persons to advance the cause of parochial and prebendal politics.
”We intend to get to the root of the sad occurrence as we await the findings of security agencies on the unfortunate incident,” he said.
Akeredolu said the governors and the people of the southwest are working assiduously, to find lasting solutions to the current security challenges and curtail the nefarious activities of undesirable elements bent on wrecking the country’s peace.
He said: “We are not unaware of the antics of certain elements, who hope to garner political mileage from the contrived crises in virtually all parts of the country. We are equally convinced that this confusion serves the narrow interests of some persons.
”The country has a rich history; she has had to encounter adversities in the course of her transition to nationhood. She has overcome them all. This distraction will also pass. We look up to the security agencies to take cohesive steps to curtail this major challenge of insecurity which engenders hopelessness.
”We can only enjoin all citizens, on our part, to be patient and continue to cooperate with them as they combat the festering crises. We on our part have taken great strides with the hope that great success will be achieved.
”We, however, note, with discomfiture, the unpatriotic acts of some Nigerians, who will stop at nothing in their bid to undermine the Federal Government.
The forum reiterated the commitment of the governors and the people of the southwest to the nationhood project, as they continue to address the challenges confronting the people, saying: ”We will promote, with renewed vigor, all activities which encourage amity among our people”.
The southwest governors called on all persons of Fulani extraction, and indeed all Nigerians from other parts of the country, resident in the southwest region, to discountenance NEF’s unpatriotic outburst and other self-serving organizations of opportunists.
The forum welcomed all Nigerians, who have legitimate reasons to be in the region, stressing that the governments and people of the southwest would protect all persons regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds.
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