On Monday, 29 May, 2023, a new Nigerian president will be inaugurated. Going by all political calculations and pronouncements made by INEC and the Federal Government of Nigeria, the new President will be Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
The reality, however, is that the political environment is not yet settled, as Tinubu’s opponents are still bitterly opposed to his victory and they are in court, seeking to overturn the results declared by the electoral umpire.
The 25 February election has taken on a life of its own and remains unique in many ways. The emergence of the major contenders was dramatic and full of tension, apprehension, and strategic manoeuvres. The stories in APC, PDP and LP were the same.
We have disputed all elections conducted in Nigeria from independence to date. It is, therefore, not surprising that the 2023 version is being bitterly disputed. However, I hold the opinion that this is the best election so far, not necessarily because of the winners that emerged, but for the fact that there is no dominant person or party.
The expression of dissent was apparent in the results declared in some states like Osun, Lagos, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, FCT, etc. I also hold that Peter Obi is the hero of the 2023 election, even though he is not the winner. If not for him, his participation, and mass appeal, we may never know that there is a possibility of breaking through the “Wall of Jericho” that had been erected for ages by the “established” rulers of this nation. He may not have got it now but there is a chance that things may get better tomorrow.
My appeal to everyone is that we should take the issues away from the current level of recriminations which could further weaken an already fragile cord of unity between the various ethnic nationalities that make up the entity called Nigeria. The case is already in court, and we should allow the court to do its job.
The full story of the 2023 elections will be told very soon, particularly after the ruling of the court. For now, the focus is on how to contain the social, security and economic storms raging against this country, in anticipation of the swearing-in of the next president.
Yes, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a storm rider. No matter what the contrary opinions are, the truth is that Tinubu pursued his ambition to be president with zeal and unparalleled political sagacity and he eventually got to the level where he is today, addressed as the president-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The road to the current destination was rough, very rough. Those who love him are in great numbers; they love him with passion, and they are ready to walk a thousand miles for him. Those who hate him are in great numbers too, possibly in greater numbers, as the results of the election indicated; and they hate him with passion, as expressed daily in bitter comments and ill-wishes. However, somehow, he was able to outmanoeuvre all of them and he was pronounced winner of the recently concluded election.
We got to know Tinubu during the short period of the ill-fated Third Republic as a senator and pro-Abiola activist. He became governor of Lagos State in 1999 and has, today, remained the most influential member of his class as state governor.
He has also been accused of amassing wealth from the Lagos State commonwealth and was tried by the Code of Conduct Tribunal but somehow, he was able to ride the storm to remain relevant in the political space. We will all remember his contribution to the formation of APC, the party that defeated a sitting government in 2015. This contribution was rubbished after the party’s victory and the attrition continued until the 2022 presidential battle of wits. Shortly before the primary, many commentators had written him off but the storm rider, again, emerged victorious. But will he be able to ride the storm currently raging against Nigeria?
The country is divided along the ethnic fault lines and the recent election has further deepened the division. We have experienced a bitter civil war before because of this division and we will not want this to happen again. Unfortunately, the current mood is ominous, and the rhetoric is suggestive of a heightened tension.
The tasks ahead
We will need a leader who will bring the component parts together, calm frayed nerves and truly restore hope of peaceful coexistence and prosperity. Will the new president quickly move along this path and ride the storm of ethnicity that has kept us down for a very long time?
The economy is in a shambles and things are not working as they are expected to be. Some statistics may be showing improvements here and there and there may be a reason why things are the way they are but the reality on ground is that people are suffering, businesses are failing, and hope is forlorn. We need a leader who will quickly arrest the haemorrhage and put the economy on the path of stability and growth.
We cannot continue to run businesses without power, high inflation, and the unstable foreign exchange regime. We cannot continue in this state of unrestrained corruption in all facets of the economy, particularly in government dealings. Can the new president ride this storm?
The youths of this country are frustrated with the system, and they are leaving the country in their numbers. The unemployment rate has risen from 15 per cent in 2015 to 33 per cent as the current government prepares to leave. For some of these youths, since they could not find a useful engagement in the formal and informal sectors, they have let themselves into criminal activities which are almost becoming the norm in the society now. How do we take care of our youths and guarantee the future of the nation? For how long can we continue to ignore them and expect them to behave well? Can the new president ride the storm?
The education sector is already at its lowest ebb right now. Public education has become a travesty of what it used to be. Both lecturers and students are distraught and are in a state of despair. Even the administrators themselves are withdrawing their children from the public universities and sending them to schools abroad or to the private universities. Can the new president ride this storm?
The pervasive insecurity situation in this country deserves a very special attention. In the recent past, one could move around the country without fear of being kidnapped or attacked by armed robbers or becoming a victim of ritualists. In some parts of the country, the bandits have taken over and are conducting their business with impunity.
They have become so bold as to attack military institutions and no one and nowhere is safe again. The burden of policing the community is compounded by lack of equipment and low morale of the personnel. It is the same story in the other arms of the security network. In fact, people now fear the Police and other security men because of their penchant to engage in criminal activities. As it is now, security in this country is in a state of hopelessness and people are forced to fend for themselves. Can our new president ride this storm?
The infrastructure deficit in Nigeria is a major factor stunting the growth of the economy. The roads are bad, thus limiting the movement of people and goods. The world is driven by IT now, but Nigeria is lagging, due to the infrastructure challenge. Can the new president ride this storm?
The centralisation of governance in Nigeria is a major setback for development. It is heart-warming to note the recent move by the outgoing government to devolve more powers on railway and electricity to the states. This is the way to go, although this gesture is coming too late in the life of this administration. The big and powerful centre is the cause of the bitter struggle for the control of the power and the purse of the Federal Government. The driving force behind the struggle is selfishness, greed, control of resources and corruption. Can the new president ride this storm?
We have passed through this way before. In 2015, we went out with excitement and hope to vote for a new Government that will usher in the desired change. We invested our trust in the newly formed party and voted in a new government that we thought would restore hope and make things easier for us. Eight years later, not much has changed and in fact, some critical items have become worse than they were previously.
The new leader should understand and accept the scepticism that will attend his ascension to the seat of governance. It will even be more significant because of issues surrounding the election. However, we will continue to pray fervently for divine enablement and empowerment for the new president to build a formidable team that will turn things around for this country.
Best wishes as we get ready for the coronation of the storm rider.
Dr Lolu Ojo
Consultant Pharmacist, Lagos.