It has taken 243 days, 34 weeks and eight months since the 2023 presidential election of February 25 to confirm who the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is. The country’s apex court, the Supreme Court, on October 26, 2023, affirmed the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which, on September 6, 2023, upheld the victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The seven-man panel of justices of the apex court unanimously resolved all eight issues, including the issue of qualification, compliance with the Electoral Act, the 25 per cent requirement of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and electoral malpractice, in favour of the respondents: Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Inyang Okoro said: “On the whole, having resolved all the issues against the appellant, it is my view that there is no merit in the appeal, and it is hereby dismissed.
“The judgment of the court below delivered on September 6, 2023, affirming the election of the second respondent (Tinubu) as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is hereby affirmed.”
After five months of intense legal battle and public commentaries, the apex court’s ruling gives the 71-year-old Tinubu a clear mandate to govern the country. Despite the late drama of alleged certificate forgery, the apex court held that the law must be respected concerning stipulated guidelines and procedures. More importantly, the court ruled that the appellants – Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) – did not produce alternative results showing that they got the majority of lawful votes cast in the 2023 presidential election.
Now that the Supreme Court, the highest-ranking court in the land, has affirmed who Nigeria’s President is for the next four years, what next? It is the view of this columnist that the country must indeed transpose from heightened ramblings and slanging matches to proper governance.
Just as Justice Okoro, while ruling on the petition of Obi, said: “…it is the view of this court that this issue having been dealt with by this court, this court cannot allow the matter to be re-litigated in this very court. THERE MUST BE AN END TO LITIGATION.” The emphasis on the last part of His Lordship’s statement is important – all gimmicks and war of words cannot continue.
Therefore, it behoves the President and his team to demonstrate that they are ready and have the capacity for governance. Despite key economic reforms – removal of fuel subsidy and unification of the forex market – that President Tinubu introduced early in his tenure, the country’s economy continues to contract and is dealing with a weakening Naira currency.
The country is also grappling with a double-digit inflation rate, foreign currency (Forex) shortages, rising insecurity in both the northern and southern parts of the economy, irregular power supply and massive crude oil theft. Indeed, the current administration is facing numerous challenges thus far. The rollout of policies and appointments seems to have been a miss and hit in certain areas, and these blunders tend to have repercussions on the country.
So, it is time for the administration officials to ditch the hullabaloo of the media space, focus on lacing their boots and work exceedingly hard. Yes, the administration’s officials cannot completely abandon attending media interviews or publishing posts on social media to inform Nigerians of their actions or counter propaganda and falsehood, but as mentioned earlier, the economy is in a dire strait, and the supposed elasticity of Nigerians to cope and bear in difficult situations is thinning drastically.
Not even an oil-welled PR gerrymandering or propaganda dissemination will stop Nigerians from revolting when they feel they have reached their tipping point. It will just be like play when Nigerians dismount the claims of aloofness and civility, as recently propagated by Rotimi Amaechi, a former Rivers State governor and ex-minister.
For members of the opposition, this is the time for them to work for the country. No one is asking them to discountenance their job of upholding the government of the day to account, far from it! Indeed, this is the time they need to put the Tinubu government on their toes in a constructive manner. However, they need to refrain from heating the polity with their incendiary comments. Before the commencement of the 2023 election cycle, all participants were aware that the Supreme Court is the last arbiter on presidential election petition matters.
So, while certainly not glossing over what Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad (rtd) recently said about the state of the Nigerian judiciary, members of the opposition – in the view of this writer – must not make disparaging comments against the court and the judiciary, in general. The comments attributed to some entities, such as Julius Abure, the LP National Chairman; the PDP and Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate and former vice president, have, to put it mildly, disappointing.
What these opposition parties and their members, especially their leaders, ought to be doing currently is constructively criticising the policies and decisions of the ruling APC and proffering solutions to certain policy mishaps and national issues, just as Atiku did at the end of his umpteenth world press conference on October 30, 2023.
While Nigeria may not practice the “shadow cabinet” politics of British politics, opposition politicians in Nigerians should take a cue from what Sir Kerr Stammer, the leader of the opposition UK Labour Party, and his shadow cabinet ministers do by proposing alternatives to policy directives made by the Tory Party-led government.
The last word goes to Nigerians. Amaechi, as referenced earlier, has already “yabbed” us, saying we are docile to “corrupt politicians” and that we enable these ineffective leaders by not being inquisitive enough regarding their actions taken on our behalf. However, I believe Nigerians defied this stereotype statement in the 2015 and 2023 general elections. The electorate showed the politicians who truly widened the legitimate and sovereign power. However, the former minister is right that Nigerians do not consistently demand good governance from their elected leaders.
Aside from the election period, the voices of Nigerians demanding governance and proper accountability from elected and appointed leaders are few and far between. The concentration of many citizens from their leaders during the four-year term limit of the latter is “stomach infrastructure” matters, things such as wey my own money. Such a mentality will not make Nigerian politicians take their constituents seriously.
As visible to the naked eye and even the blind (apologies for the pun intended), the country is already in a fix, and we, the citizens, are grinding and gnashing our teeth daily. Therefore, we need to be alive to our responsibilities by sensibly holding our leaders to account through town halls, social media posts and broadcast media interview questions about what they are doing to alleviate our situation so that we do not languish.
Nigerians, this is not the time for the usual ra kan dede. Wise up!