Buhari: Jonathan Conceding Defeat in 2015 Unprecedented, Un-Nigerian
*To bestow Tinubu with GCFR title May 25
*Urges diplomats to always respect nation’s traditional institutions, cultures
*Ex-president preaches integrity, good governance
*Nothing can stop transition of power on May 29, says SGF
*Court to decide whether to stop inauguration May 24
Deji Elumoye, Alex Enumah and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, reviewed the 2015 general election that brought him into office, and said the singular act of his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, conceding defeat, even before the formal announcement of the election result, was unprecedented and, definitely, not Nigerian.
Buhari made the assertion at a farewell meeting with his media support group, Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), at the State House, Abuja.
The statement came as the president was billed to confer on the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, the country’s highest honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) during the handover of transition documents at the State House, Abuja, on May 25, ahead of his inauguration as the 16th President of Nigeria.
However, Buhari advised the High Commissioners of the United Kingdom, Richard Hugh Montgomery, and Sri Lanka, Velupillai Kananathan, to always uphold the noble standards of diplomacy, like their predecessors, by respecting Nigerian cultures and traditional institutions. He spoke, when he received Letters of Credence from the diplomats.
Jonathan called for the entrenchment of a culture of integrity across both the corporate and civil spaces as a way of addressing the problems associated with governance, democracy and development in the country.
At the same time, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Transition Council, Mr Boss Mustapha, told a world press conference, yesterday, that nothing could stop the transition of power on May 29.
Nonetheless, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, yesterday, adjourned till May 24 the ruling in a suit seeking to stop the inauguration of Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2023.
Speaking at the farewell meeting with his media support team, the president recalled how elated he felt when his predecessor, Jonathan, “called me at 5:25 that evening to say congratulations. I said pardon me Mr. President? He said yes, I called to concede and congratulate you. That was equally very un-Nigerian.”
Buhari also likened the sacrifices of the BMO members to that of past leaders, citing, in particular, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, and himself. He recalled how in the period of the civil war, he walked from Makurdi, in today’s Benue State, to the shorelines.
While calling on Nigerians to walk on the path of duty if they really wanted to see the country achieve new heights, the president showered praises on members of BMO for volunteering their time and energy throughout the eight years of his administration “without salary, letter of appointment or any formal rewards, describing their sacrifices as ‘very un-Nigerian.”
Buhari said the BMO had by their action given him inspiration and hope for a better Nigeria in the future.
He said, “I am so happy for all that you have done to support my administration. I don’t have enough words to thank you individually and collectively. I occasionally read your outbursts and often wondered what type of Nigerians are these? The sacrifices you have made for our success is beyond measure.”
The president described Nigeria as a lucky country given the natural resources available to it and its vast population, saying, “We don’t even know how much resource we have. A major part of Africa’s natural resources are domiciled in this country.”
Making comparisons with countries he had been to on military training, Buhari cited a particular instance, where people who died of hunger overnight, were cleared off the streets by refuse collectors. He recalled, “People just moved on with their daily lives even in the face of these cultural shocks.”
Earlier, Chairman and Coordinator of BMO, Niyi Akinsiju, said, “As your administration ends on May 29th, 2023, we wish to state unequivocally that you have made the country proud and posterity will judge you favourably.”
On his part, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, informed the president that the group was the same media committee that worked for him in the 2015 elections, which was an amalgam of the media assets of the candidates that ran with him in the party primaries that he asked him to keep.
On behalf of the group, the presidential spokesman thanked Buhari for the opportunity he gave them to serve during the period of his eight-year leadership, noting that throughout this period, the BMO sustained itself through voluntary assistance by non-governmental organisations.
Buhari to Bestow Tinubu with GCFR Award May 25
President-elect Bola Tinubu would receive the country’s highest honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) during the handover of transition documents at the State House, Abuja, on May 25, ahead of his inauguration as the 16th President of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Transition Council, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this yesterday at a world press conference on the 2023 presidential inauguration, which he said was unstoppable.
Mustapha added that the vice-president-elect, Senator Kasim Shettima, would on the same occasion bag the Grand Commander of Order of the Niger (GCON).
Mustapha, while unveiling the programme of events for the inauguration, said the conferment would be preceded by a Regimental Dinner in honour of Buhari on May 23 at the Armed Forces Officers Mess, to be followed by a valedictory Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, on May 24.
There would be a public lecture and Jumaat prayer at the National Mosque on May 26, followed by an inauguration lecture on the topic: Deepening Democracy for Integration and Development by former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta.
The lecture is to hold up at the International Conference Centre on May 27.
There would be an inter-denominational church service at the National Christian Centre on May 28, preceding the Inauguration Dinner/Gala Night, at the State House Conference Centre on the same day.
The highpoint of the activities would be the inauguration parade/swearing-in at the Eagle Square on May 29 and the post inauguration luncheon at the State House Banquet Hall that is strictly for the in-coming president with invited presidents, heads of government, and his invited guests also on May 29.
Mustapha said the Presidential Transition Council had sent invitations to presidents and heads of government as well as heads of international organisations, adding that many of those invitees had confirmed attendance in person.
The SGF enjoined Nigerians to embrace the moment as proud citizens, saying it is a moment made for togetherness, unity, peace and progress. He assured the people that adequate arrangements had been made for the safety and security of people throughout the inauguration period.
He further assured Nigerians and the international community of Buhari’s commitment to the seamless transfer of power to Tinubu as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He added that in demonstration of this commitment, the president had directed all relevant government institutions to cooperate with and support the transition process through engagement with the president-elect’s team.
Mustapha reiterated that there would be a smooth transition of power on May 29, in spite of undercurrent of protests and court cases seeking to stop the process.
According to him, such would not be the first time that people would oppose a transition ushering in a new administration, as similar scenarios happened in 1979 and 1999, when Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo, respectively, were declared winners of the presidential elections.
Buhari to Diplomats: Always Respect Nigeria’s Traditional Institutions, Cultures
President Muhammadu Buhari advised the High Commissioners of the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka to always uphold the noble standards of diplomacy, like their predecessors, by respecting the traditional institutions in the country.
The president, who received Letters of Credence from the United Kingdom High Commissioner, Richard Hugh Montgomery, and his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, Velupillai Kananathan, at the State House, Abuja, yesterday, noted that relations with both countries would be further consolidated by their consideration for local culture, traditional rulers, and institutions.
Buhari told the two envoys in separate meetings, “I like the way our traditional rulers and institutions are being respected, in spite of the changing times, education, and rising materialism. There is a lot to learn from our culture, and the traditional institutions are the custodians, and they should be respected by all.”
He told the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom that the diplomatic relations, spanning many years, had been sustained on mutual respect for cultures, assuring him that all courtesies would be extended to him to make his stay in Nigeria memorable.
According to him, the cultural exchange, through education and training, with Britain has been on for many years. Buhari recalled that he had military training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England, from 1962 to 1963, and Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, United Kingdom, 1964.
The president told the British diplomat that a good understanding of cultural differences, and respect for institutions paved the way for most of the successes of the United Kingdom, noting that previous diplomats had established relations with the Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Shehu of Borno, and Emir of Ilorin, the ancient gateway to the North.
He said, “In one of my meetings with King Charles III, he asked me an interesting question, if I had a house in England, and I replied that I don’t have a house, not an inch, anywhere outside Nigeria.”
To the Sri Lankan diplomat, Buhari said the participation of women in politics and governance in Nigeria had steadily increased over the years, while referring to the first female Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
“Recently, we got close to having the first female governor in Nigeria,” he added.
In his remarks, Montgomery said the United Kingdom had always held Nigeria and its cultural institutions in high esteem, while relating the best wishes of King Charles III, as Nigeria prepares for the handover ceremony on May 29th.
He noted that the monarchy had been an integral part of the British system, and it had remained a major attraction and source of honour, saying, “We have had a long, productive dialogue over security, economic partnership, home affairs, and other issues.”
The Sri Lankan envoy told the president that the country had continued to share its skills and experience with the Nigerian military in tackling insurgency.
Kananathan assured the president that he would consolidate the efforts of his predecessor by strengthening relations on energy projects, which had already started in East Africa.
Jonathan Preaches Integrity, Good Governance
Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, called for the entrenchment of a culture of integrity across both the corporate and civil spaces as a way of addressing the problems associated with governance, democracy and development in the country.
Jonathan stated this on Wednesday in Lagos at the 40th anniversary dinner of the Institute of Directors (IoD Nigeria). He made a case for closer cooperation among African leaders, especially former and serving presidents, stressing that Africa needs such synergy to ensure peace and progress on the continent.
Noting that there was a trust gap between leaders and the people of the continent, the former president emphasised that only honest and dependable leaders could address the challenge.
Jonathan stated, “A culture of integrity is what is needed to address many of the challenges confronting governance in our country. When integrity is entrenched as a culture and a corporate lifestyle in many organisations, the problems associated with corruption, dishonesty, poor governance, and even election management will be significantly addressed.”
He noted that cordial relations existed among Nigeria’s former leaders, describing the development as commendable and healthy for the country.
Jonathan commended IoD for the cooperation among its leaders, saying, “I have also noticed a similar trend within your institute, where former presidents cooperate and advise the current president and Chairman of Governing Council.
“This, regrettably, is not the case in some African countries, where political transitions and relations between serving and former leaders are quite challenging and unhealthy because of unnecessary rivalry. In some of these countries, former presidents and sitting presidents are like enemies, who hardly talk to one another.
“In Africa, we need to develop a sustainable political culture that treats elections as a contestation of ideas, where whoever wins will be disposed to run the country with other broad-minded patriots for the benefit of the citizens.”
Jonathan further charged members to continue to strive to project IoD as the go-to organisation for integrity and exemplary leadership, saying, “A place like IoD, given the reputation you have built for yourselves, could serve as a think tank or policy institute, where corporate and political leaders could visit to test their ideas for responsible leadership and good governance.
“It can also serve as the place, where leaders could go to headhunt for tested and trusted technocrats to occupy strategic national positions; those that would justly deploy their skill and experience in exemplary service to the nation. This is my hope for IoD Nigeria as you celebrate this milestone. “
Court to Decide Whether to Stop Tinubu’s Inauguration May 24
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, yesterday, adjourned till May 24 ruling in a suit seeking to stop the inauguration of Bola Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2023.
Ekwo fixed the date after lawyers to the plaintiffs addressed the court on the issue of jurisdiction and locus standi.
Five residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had approached the court to stop the inauguration of Tinubu on account of not scoring 25 per cent of votes in the FCT at the just concluded presidential election as required by the constitution.
The court had on Monday asked the plaintiffs to address it on the issues of jurisdiction and locus standi regarding the suit seeking to stop Tinubu’s inauguration on May 29.
Ekwo, after the suit was mentioned, fixed May 18 for the plaintiffs to return and address it on the issues stated above.
However, at the resumed hearing of the suit yesterday, Ekwo, after listening to the submissions of lawyers to the plaintiffs, fixed May 24, for ruling in the application.
Lawyer to the plaintiffs, Mr Nwachukwu, in his argument, told the court that it had jurisdiction to hear the matter since the plaintiffs were not parties to the petition currently before the presidential election petition court.
The plaintiffs had approached the Federal High Court in Abuja on April 28, 2023, claiming that Tinubu failed to secure at least 25 per cent of votes cast in the FCT and could not be sworn in on that account.
Besides, Ekwo had asked the plaintiffs, represented by Mr Anyaegbunam Okoye and four others, to address the court on whether they had the legal right to file the suit and whether the matter was not already before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
The plaintiffs, representing other residents and registered voters of the FCT in the suit, were asking the court to determine whether they would not be discriminated against if any state within Nigeria was substituted for the FCT for the purpose of the application of Section 134(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.
The plaintiffs were also asking the court to determine whether any candidate in the February 25 presidential election in the country might validly be declared elected and sworn in as president without obtaining at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT.
They are also asking whether the court may restrain the swearing-in of any person on May 29 or on any other date until the issues raised in the summons have been determined.
They wanted an order setting aside or suspending any declaration or issuance of a certificate of return to any candidate in the February 25 presidential election except it was judicially determined.
The plaintiffs also wanted an order restraining the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), any other judicial officer from swearing in any candidate in the February 25 presidential election as president or vice-president until it was judicially determined with finality in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. They said this was with effect to the fact that such a candidate had fulfilled the requirements of Section 134 Subsection 2b of the constitution.
Joined in the suit is the Attorney-General of the Federation and the CJN.