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TINUBU, ATIKU, OBI AND THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS
President Muhammadu Buhari is counting days to leaving office even as Bola Ahmed Tinubu waits in the wings to take over while Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar head to court to contend for what they consider a stolen mandate at best during the 2023 general elections.
How earnestly Nigerians yearn for the day when elections will be decided at the polling units with all parties reposing their faith in the process and eschewing recourse to court so that at least the courts can concentrate on other pressing matters. But the signs with the 2023 general elections are that Nigeria is still a long way from that promised land.
Already, fireworks have ensued in the Court of Appeal with the application by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for an order of court to reconfigure the much discussed Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BvAS). The application was heard and granted to set the stage for the governorship elections which have now been moved from March 11, 2023 to March 18, 2023.
While INEC seeks to put its house in order and get its act together and the courts listening to all those who would contend that the 2023 presidential elections were irredeemably flawed, it is important to remember that nature abhors a vacuum and barring a court of law finding otherwise, on May 29, 2023, Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be sworn in as Nigeria’s President. What a president he would be.
Widely recognized as a kingmaker in the Southwest, and in Lagos State where he was a two-term governor, he came to national prominence when in historic elections he helped forge the coalition that brought the 16-year-long reign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to a shuddering end. He has been in and around the current government for the last eight years. It was probably why he felt so strongly that it was his time to step out in the sun. That feeling and Tinubu’s unashamed expression of it succeeded in alienating so many Nigerians. It is doubtful that if he takes the saddle as president, he will be able to bring many Nigerians aboard especially those un-benighted by ethnic and religious bigotry.
Nigerians wanted Peter Obi. At least all those who wanted Nigeria to work wanted Peter Obi, whose vision for Nigeria had thrilled and transfixed Nigerians in equal measure. For many Nigerians, it was Peter Obi or no one else. And suddenly, a man who had no structure was surging to over six million votes on the platform of a party that was just a year ago, it was just one of many Nigerian political parties stewing in obscurity.
From the moment he polled the highest numbers in the primary elections of the All Progressives Congress for the office of the President, many predicted that Bola Ahmed Tinubu would win or at least put in a strong showing. He put in a strong showing when he polled 8,794,726 votes to shrug off 17 other candidates.
What Tinubu has not been able to shrug off is the widely distributed perception that his antecedents are unfit for the country’s highest office. As he ran for office, many Nigerians at home and abroad questioned the source of his staggering personal wealth. Many said he had acquired such wealth by constantly and continuously milking Lagos, where he was Governor for eight years.
Some Nigerians would readily disagree with the above assertion. Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has averred that Bola Tinubu has zero tolerance for corruption. Many Nigerians would disagree with this assertion. They also balk at the fact that someone fingered for the kind of corruption wreaking havoc in Nigeria is set to occupy the country’s highest office. It also does not help Tinubu’s case that the’ bullion van’ whispers have never really gone away.
Questions about Mr. Tinubu’s history with drugs have also never really been clarified. Was he ever convicted of trading in any drugs? For many Nigerians, such questions surrounding a man who will be at the head of affairs in Nigeria is a real nightmare.
Nigeria needs a strong spine going forward. The last eight years have been full of a bitter kind of disappointment. Whether Tinubu can provide such a strong spine remains to be seen.
Kene Obiezu, @kenobiezu