It’s Now The Turn Of Nigerians -By Lekan Sote

Lekan Sote

Maybe to ensure that President Tinubu does not play the Buhari denial game, the Transition Monitoring Group, led by Auwal Rafsanjani, has publicly launched a compendium of his election promises as a reminder.

A presidential aspirant then, Bola Tinubu, desperately wailed, “Emi lo kan,” meaning, “It’s my turn,” when he wasn’t quite sure he would win the presidential ticket at the approaching primaries of the All Progressives Congress early 2022.

“Emilokan,” expression of his desperation at the looming betrayal of nearly every APC potentate, including former President Muhammadu Buhari, however, became the moniker of his presidential campaign. It also became a benign epidemic that even Pentecostal Christians turned into a prayer point.

Some rascally members of a confraternity turned the battle cry into a wicked mockery of Tinubu with a derogatory song in which they wondered how the febrile and infirm could insist it was his turn to be President of Nigeria.

Their song, rendered in Nigeria’s patois or Pidgin English, went thus: “Head dey shake. Hand dey shake. Baba wey no well, he dey shout ‘Emilokan,’” implying that you need sturdy health to take on the onerous responsibilities of Nigeria’s President.

They have a reasonable and valid argument though. Ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who succeeded President Olusegun Obasanjo, unfortunately, died under the weight of the Nigerian presidency.

President Buhari was only lucky to have left the presidency alive and in good health, though he and his duties to Nigerians suffered enormously for months during the periods of his medical tourism. Despite the sterling performances of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who stepped in as acting president or vice president, governance suffered.

Tinubu, however, remains President unless the courts heed the prayers of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, respective presidential candidates of the People’s Democratic Party and the Labour Party, who emerged as first and second runners-up in the 2023 presidential election.

As President of Nigeria, Tinubu’s concern should go beyond his personal ambition. Already, “Nwon ti gbe kini yen wa,” they have delivered the presidency to him, as he wanted. Everything from now on is about the citizens of Nigeria.

The minimum expectation now is for him to deliver on the security and welfare of the citizens as guaranteed by Section 14 of Nigeria’s Constitution, which is the fodder of the social contract between the leader and the led in every democratic setting.

Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of America, Louis Brandeis, once said: “The most important political office (in a democratic country) is that of the private citizen.”

As the customer is king in a business transaction, the citizen is also king in a democratic country where those who rule are voted in by the electorate on the basis of the manifestos that they undertake to fulfil.

Justice Brandeis added: “Democracy rests upon two pillars: one, the principle that all men are equally entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and the other, the conviction that such equal opportunity will most advance civilisation.”

So the job of newly minted President Tinubu and his men is cut out for them. He and his team have the grave responsibility of guaranteeing the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” of the citizens of Nigeria, including those who didn’t vote for him.

The document of The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America affirms that in order “to secure (the) rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness of the people), Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The least that President Tinubu can do from now on is to adopt the words and spirit of this “scripture” as guardrails from which his government must never depart. These should be the touchstones from which his policies and actions must be derived.

This election has been the most contested. Tinubu himself acknowledges that “the election that brought us to this juncture… was a hard-fought contest,” though he also thinks it “was fairly won (and) the outcome reflected the will of the people.”

For the first time in Nigeria’s political history, three major political parties contested the election at the federal level. In the First Republic, it was the Northern People’s Congress and the Action Group.

In the Second and Third Republics, the National Party of Nigeria and Unity Party of Nigeria and Social Democratic Party and National Republican Convention ran respectively. All the other political parties that contested were also-rans.

Youths, powered by the #EndSARS crowd that initially adopted former Vice President Osinbajo as their choice for President, became more active and vocal, challenging the political status quo in Nigeria.

They contributed to the significant upset observed in the outcome of the elections. Many incumbent governors who thought it would be an easy ride for them to transit into the Senate chambers of the National Assembly were shocked at the turn of events. They lost their bids.

Interestingly, Tinubu lost his home state, Lagos. Even former President Buhari, the Chairman of APC, Director General of the Tinubu Presidential Campaign Council, and sitting Governors of Kano and Kaduna states, who were committed supporters of Tinubu, could not deliver their states to him.

By losing these major states (that deliver the highest voters in all federal elections in Nigeria), President Tinubu is (probably) having a fragile hold on to power and he must tread gently, but actively seek rapprochement with all those contesting the political space with him.

These are the opposition political parties, aggrieved presidential candidates who lost to him, youths, the Christian community who are still hurting from his choice of a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, some Christian clerics, the Indigenous People of Biafra and even the ‘unknown gunmen’ of South-East. But some opposition politicians, like a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, a staunch member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, openly admitted to working for the victory of President Tinubu.

Though he has the highest number of votes in (only) 12 states and scored one-quarter of the votes in 30 of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, he is going to have a hell of a job trying to win over those opposed to him.

Another headache is the battered economy and he must find a way to assure foreign investors, Diaspora Nigerians and local businessmen, that their lives and investments are safe in Nigeria. He seems to appreciate that.

At his investiture as Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he promised, “On security, the economy, agriculture, jobs, education, health and power and in all other sectors we must make headway. The people deserve no less.”

And in his inaugural speech, five days after, he added, “Our mission is to improve our way of life.” But talk, as everyone knows, is cheap, and it is given that Nigerians will hold him to his words.

It will be a matter of regret if he turns around, like President Buhari, to claim that it was the APC, and not himself, that made the electoral promises in the manifesto upon which he asked to be elected President.

Maybe to ensure that President Tinubu does not play the Buhari denial game, the Transition Monitoring Group, led by Auwal Rafsanjani, has publicly launched a compendium of his election promises as a reminder.

President Tinubu probably knows that the fury of the #EndSARS youths and their closet supporters is waiting if he reneges on his electoral promises.