High Expectations as Nigerians Await Tinubu’s Inauguration on May 29

Exactly two days to the May 29 Inauguration of the incoming president of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, tension, anxiety, fear and expectations seemed to have enveloped the nation. There appears to be a lot of subterranean moves by different elements to ensure that nothing goes wrong on inauguration day.

This is not unconnected with some complaints that followed the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Tinubuof the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the February 25 Presidential Election, despite agitations by the opposition political parties and a good number of the Nigerian electorate.

The development has also created tension and palpable fear amongsome Nigerians as arguments and counter arguments continue to fly around as to the feasibility or otherwise of the inauguration on May 29. This is because about five political parties, including the PeoplesDemocratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP), alongside their presidential candidates, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi, are already at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), challenging Tinubu’s eligibility to contest for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his eventual declaration as the President-elect.

Apart from the usual allegations of rigging and manipulation of election results to favour one candidate or the other, in this case the APC candidate, the plaintiffs have equally placed three other issues before the election petition tribunal to determine before the inauguration. First, they are alleging that Tinubu did not get 25 percent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as required by law to be declared president, and as such, should not be sworn in as president. They quoted section 134 (2) (a) (b) which states that for you to be declared the president-elect, where there are two or more candidates, you must have scored 25 percent of the votes cast in two-third of the states of the federation and the FCT, to back up their argument that Tinubu cannot be sworn in, having failed to meet that threshold. They also stressed that INEC had no reason to have declared him president-elect in the first place, having failed to meet that threshold. Though it is understandable What there was a Supreme Court Ruling on the same type of case when Buhari, in his previous presidential contests complained that Yar’Adua did not pass the FCT 25 % votes, and he was declared winner. The apex court ruled that FCT 25 % is part of the two-thirds of states i.e. if a candidate scores 25% in FCT it is counted among the states that satisfy the requirement.

Secondly, they are also alleging that the vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima has a double nomination hanging on his neck, having obtained the nomination form for the Senate and that of the vice president at the same time, a development they argued is enough to disqualify both himself and the president-elect, AsiwajuBola Ahmed Tinubu. They drew attention to what happened in Bayelsa State where David Lyon, who was the Governor-elect was disqualified a day to his swearing in because his deputy had issues bordering on certificate forgery. In other words, their argument is that since it is a joint ticket, whatever affects one will automatically affect the other as the case of Lyon demonstrated.

The third case against Tinubu’s inauguration is his drug-related case in the United States of America, where he was alleged to have forfeited about $460,000 as proceeds of crime.

Due to the foregoing, Nigerians have taken different positions. There are those who insist that the inauguration should be held to avoid a vacuum in the presidency while hearing continues on the matter before the PEPT, stressing that if at the end of the day, the matter does not favour Tinubu, he would leave the office for whoever that would be declared the winner of the election. Those on this divide hinged their argument on the fact that it has always been the tradition for the president-elect to be sworn in whilst the case against him continued in the court and that Tinubu’s case should not be treated differently.

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On the side of the out-going president, with just barely two days to the expiration of his tenure, President Muhammadu Buhari and regime officials have been claiming successes in governance over the past eight years, prompting independent assessment. At home and abroad (mostly abroad), Buhari has been reiterating his “achievements,” insisting that Nigerians would appreciate him favourably after his exit. He is entitled to his self-appraisal, but it is the electorate, society’s watchdogs, and history that have the final word. They will remember him also for among other things, his failure to redeem his promises and deliver good governance, and the negative impact of these on the lives of the people.

This is just one side of the story. Nigerians will remember Buhariand his regime more for their failed promises, poor leadership, and sustenance of the failed template of governance he inherited that is delivering divisions, poverty, and insecurity, and driving the country towards state failure.

Consider the four major planks of Buhari’s campaign promises as packaged by his promoters in his fourth and successful bid for the presidency: to terminate insecurity, fight corruption, revamp the economy, and instill discipline and rigour in governance. But everywhere one looks, failure is writ large.

Lack of trust in politicians is universal. In Nigeria, the trust deficit is a mighty chasm. It has further widened under Buhari. Globally, polls variously put distrust of politicians at over 60 percent in Britain, Australia, and the United States. There are no reliable polls on public trust in Nigeria. Studies conducted by various scholars under the aegis of the American Political Science Association found that in democracies, political parties tend to keep their promises, but said “this varies under different institutional and political circumstances.”

On Buhari’s watch, failed promises have deepened public distrust. Take security: Buhari, a former Army general, had repeatedly promised to secure the country. By mid-2015, the major security challenges were the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency, proliferation of small arms, and ethnic clashes in some North-Central states; banditry was in its infancy in Zamfara State. The insurgents were mainly active in the North-East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

Now, insecurity has metastasized. The insurgents, initially driven to the fringes of the Lake Chad, have since spread to the North-Central and North-West. Farmer/herder militants are spreading deaths, arson, and ethnic cleansing in North-Central states.

Kidnapping-for-ransom has reached an industrial scale to become arguably the country’s most thriving “industry,” just as its maritime corollary, sea piracy on the coast, has gained global notoriety. In the South-East, criminals tagged “unknown gunmen,” are painting the region in blood and fire. In the South-West, criminal gangs, cult groups and violent transport union thugs, and hooligans hired by politicians have rendered the zone unsafe. The South-South region is equally rife with cults, criminal gangs, oil pipeline vandals and thieves.

Buhari’s promise to fight corruption has also proved to be hollow; Nigeria ranked 150 out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index 2022, the same spot it occupied in 2021, with no drastic improvement since Buhari took power. A report by Deutsche Welle in 2022 labelled the regime’s avowed war on corruption as “hopeless,” noting that instead, the country was “sinking deeper into the mire of corruption.”

The promise to revamp the economy has also crashed. Rather, Buhari’s tenure delivered two recessions, degraded the naira by over 800 percent, and raised debts to N44 trillion, projected to hit N77 trillion when the N23 trillion the regime borrowed from the Central Bank of Nigeria is securitised. Unemployment has risen to 33.3 percent; energy prices have spiked, and more factories are closing.

Invariably, what Nigerians are more concerned though, is whether or not, Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu will betray his promises as his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari did despite his track record of achievements as the Governor of Lagos State. Also, many sees Tinubu’s ability to spot and nurture leaders who have excelled not only in Lagos but across the continent is enough testimony that he is a tested leader with great foresight. He is a man that has the vision and the political sagacity to move this country forward to an enviable heights when finally given the mantle of leadership.

The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has pledged to deploy technology and the digital economy to create jobs. He also promised to work on delivering a student loan that would greatly ease the burden of students and also deliver reforms to guarantee a stable academic calendar in our tertiary institutions.

The President-elect also promised to work on reforming our security system in order to make our uniformed men more professional and to operate strictly within the ambit of the law. Without a doubt, it is my firm conviction that Asiwaju remains the best option for Nigeriato move forward. For those of us familiar with the nearly comatose economy inherited in 1999 when Asiwaju became governor of Lagos State and the spate of unlawful activities perpetrated by mostly young people, his achievements in office, including the thriving entertainment and movie industry, enabled by his government which engaged many hitherto idle youths, we can assess his capacity to do a good job as Nigeria’s president. 

No doubt, based on his antecedents, competence, and record of service, Nigerians are almost certain that the nation will advance forward under Asiwaju. Like I said in the beginning, the greatness we seek for Nigeria will not just happen because we can dream or debate it on social media platforms or whenever we come together as groups; it will only happen because all of us as a collective choose to take part when it matters the most. Certainly, we can attain our collective desire for Nigeria if we all think together, band together, and work together with other stakeholders to drive this country toward its desired destination.

No doubt, the confident and proven display of capacity by young Nigerians in almost all sectors across the world can be said to be inspired by the spirit of patriotism and tenacity displayed by our past heroes in their prime. As youth of this country, on whose shoulders rests the burden of ensuring that they safeguard this country, both for themselves and the generations to come, they must first recognize and appreciate the contributions of older folks as they seek to work with them in order to blend their experience with our own dynamism as innovative, energetic and resourceful young people on a quest for a greater Nigeria. Our approach should be that of cooperation, and not antagonism. So, Tinubu’s presidential ambition was based on his “character, competence, pedigree”. He was seen as one of those elder statesmen who have made positive impacts in the lives of the younger generation. So, take it or leave it, he has done his best in raising younger leaders.

In another vein, it can be safely said that the worst nightmares Nigerians could ever have at this point is the Cabals. They’re people who are the untouchables who always perpetuate themselves in power. They are small but immensely powerful and a law to themselves. Men who wield extraordinary power, who call the shots of government deals at all times and do not necessarily need to follow government procedures or policies. They are faceless with sufficient power to maintain the status quo. They pull strings from afar to achieve their purposes. This group of mindless individuals have been the bane of Nigeria’s development over the years. These Cabals can undermine and dampen every good plans any presidentcould ever develop for implementation and place their own personal Agenda over and above such a blueprint.

In Africa, when we recognize few of them, we shower them with encomiums. Yet we cry excitedly in the bosoms of our families. We are too humble to demand what is our right. And when the matter gets to head sometimes, we mumble confusedly. That is the loop we find ourselves and that is the pathetic story of power in Nigeria. We have our votes in our hands and we have our voices to speak out when things aren’t going the way we wanted. Why are we at thissorry stage?

The answer is simple: successive governments particularly that of Muhammadu Buhari have been too timid to deal with the cabal. Nigerians are contemplating whether Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubucan wrestle us from these cabals and write his name in gold. Nigerians are being milked on a daily basis. These atrocities being unleashed on innocent citizens of Nigeria by these Cabals can be seen in different sectors of the economy and little or no effort was put in place by Buhari’s government to assuage the power of these faceless individuals throughout his tenure of office from 2015-2023. The Cabals continued to wax stronger and stronger till these exit days of Buhari’s government.

Nigerians have continued to expressed their opinions which they are entitled to, Tinubu is one of the greatest political leaders in Africa and a leader with great foresight who has what it takes to move Nigeria forward. Some said Tinubu rescued the “nearly comatose economy” he inherited as governor of Lagos state in 1999. His achievements in Lagos and the depth of his policy action for Nigerians are what make him the best presidential candidate and eventually elected during February 25, 2023 Presidential election.

As the argument on the constitutionality or otherwise of the inauguration on May 29 rages on, a group of persons under the aegis of Abuja voters and residents have secured a court order to stop the inauguration until the issue of 25 percent votes cast in the FCT is determined.   One of those Nigerians that agree with the position that 25 percent votes cast in the FCT is mandatory for a candidate to win the presidential election is Mr. Dokun Ojomo. He has gone the extra mile to shed lights on the issue of 25 percent votes cast in the FCT, quoting the Supreme Court ruling in the case between Muhammadu Buhari, as the then candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as the then candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Friday, July 15, 2005, to drive home his argument.

According to Mr. Ojomo, in the ruling, the apex court had upheld that presidential candidates must win 25 per cent of all votes cast in 24 states of the federation, as well as in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. On the outcome of the 2003 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) and the 25 percent of the votes cast in the FCT saga, Ojomo wrote: “After the 2003 elections, Buhari called for the cancellation of the election since Obasanjo failed to win in the FCT, but it was resolved that winning the FCT is not mandatory, rather what is mandatory is having 25 percent of votes cast in the FCT.

Contributing to the discourse, Chairman of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Pogu Bitrus noted that if there was tension, anxiety, fear or whatever in the land, the electoral body, INEC should be held responsible for all those. He blamed the INEC for refusing or failing to do the necessary consultations with the apex court in the land before announcing the winner of the presidential election, having known that there were constitutional issues surrounding the outcome. “There are some of the issues that are constitutional and if INEC did not have competent lawyers, it should have requested clearance from the Supreme Court since there was already an existing judgment on the issue of 25 percent votes cast in the FCT. If there was a judgment by the Supreme Court that clearly states that in addition to getting 25 percent votes cast in two-third of the states in the federation, a winner must also get 25 percent votes cast in the FCT, INEC should not have declared a winner in the first place. In spite of other issues that might look technical, the constitutional issues should have been considered before INEC made a declaration. I am not a lawyer, and I am not a judge, but if a judgment has already been passed by the Supreme Court, INEC shouldn’t have done what it did,” he insisted. In close examination of the Supreme Court ruling referred to, these arguments may have been in error based on the account given in the earlier part of this piece. 

On the argument about whether or not it is appropriate to inaugurate the president-elect on May 29, considering the issues on ground, Dr. Bitrus also said his interest is to see INEC prosecuted and punished for flagrantly flouting the constitution and throwing the country into a political quagmire. He said: “I wouldn’t want to join in the debate of whether or not the inauguration should be held on May 29, but INEC should be brought to book first. If a judgment of the Supreme Court is already there, why did INEC pronounce somebody a winner? The INEC chairman should have said, ‘look there is a lacuna, we have a problem here. The person who has the highestvotes cast doesn’t have 25 percent votes cast in the FCT and the Supreme Court passed a judgment in 2005 in a case between Buhariand former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the same matter. So, Supreme Court, please give us clarifications, so that we don’t make a declaration and it creates a problem.’ But, the INEC did not do that; so whatever happens, INEC is responsible. INEC disregarded a constitutional issue, which the Supreme Court had already passed judgment on, and declared somebody the winner. We are now in a mess and INEC should be held responsible.

In conclusion, Nigerians are not unaware that winning an election in Africa’s most populous country is no easy. But Nigeria’s newly elected President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has had nearly two decades toprepare. Called Jagaban, or “leader of the warriors,” by his supporters, the now 71-year-old ran in a presidential election for the first time this March. His campaign slogan, “Greater Together,” was a nod to his role as a longtime political power-broker. Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu helped restore the country’s democracy in 1999 after fighting military rule and then served two consecutive terms as governor of Lagos State.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nigeria’s next democratic President, now faces a litany of crises in a fractured nation, including deep-rooted corruption, religious insurgencies, and shortage of cash, fuel, and power in a crumbling economy.  The President-elect seems aware of his inheritance: “(Nigeria) is one country and we must build it together”, he said in his acceptance speech. Commentators say,  “Tinubu has the ability, capacity and the required experience needed now to take this country to the next level in both national and international affairs.”

Chief James Atang Itsegok, JP., AmbP-UN writes from Rafin Zurfi, Dass Road, Bauchi, BAUCHI State.


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