PERSPECTIVE – Support grows for Tinubu as opposition races against time to stop inauguration

PERSPECTIVE – Support grows for Tinubu as opposition races against time to stop inauguration

Mr. Ehichioya Ezomon

By Ehichioya Ezomon

Seven days to inauguration of President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima, many Nigerians are speaking about the inevitability of President Muhammadu Buhari handing over power on May 29.

Specifically, traditional and religious leaders have lent their support to the commitment of the Buhari government to see through the investiture at the Eagle Square in Abuja, and solicit prayers and cooperation for the Tinubu administration thereafter.

Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III of Sokoto is among the latest to back the swearing-in of Tinubu and Shettima – amid failure of opposition elements to abort a Tinubu presidency through legal and illegal means possible.

Secretary to Government of the Federation and Chairman of the 2023 Inauguration Committee, Mr Boss Mustapha, on May 18 said the inaugurals were going on as planned, tweets Tolu Ogunlesi, special assistant to the President on Digital and New Media.

Mustapha noted that except in 2015 when President Goodluck Jonathan conceded to retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, elections in Nigeria have been litigated since 1979 pari passu with transitions to new administrations, adding that the amended 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act 2022 have addressed issues raised by the opposition.

“The (Shehu) Shagari transitions (in 1979 and 1983) were litigated (yet the) transition went ahead. (Olusegun) Obasanjo’s transitions were litigated in 1999, 2003, transition went ahead. I stand to be corrected. But the only presidential election that was not litigated was 2015 when GEJ (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) conceded and called PMB (President Muhammadu Buhari),” Mustapha said.

At a roundtable of traditional and religious leaders on May 17 in Abuja, Sultan Abubakar’s emphatic that a new government would emerge as scheduled on May 29. His words: “There must be change because in the next few days or weeks, there will be a new government. What can we contribute to that government to stabilse?

“Whether anybody likes it (or not), it must take place; a new government is coming on 29 May. So, what can we do besides prayers because we believe in Almighty, we believe in God that gives and takes (power)?”

“What do we do to help the government stabilse and move the country forward?”

The Sultan said the times call for an opportunity for religious and traditional leaders to work together for the betterment of Nigeria.

The irrevocability of Tinubu taking the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office on May 29 has also been affirmed by three critical voices in the Christian community.

They’re: Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Revd Fr Ejike Mbaka; the General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) worldwide, Pastor Enoch Adeboye; and Leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Lagos, Primate Elijah Ayodele. Equally to weigh in on the most contentious issue ahead of the inauguration is former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN).

In a post on his Facebook page of his church in early May, fiery and controversial Fr Mbaka anointed incoming Tinubu’s administration “with the blood of Jesus.”

“In the forthcoming May 29th inauguration, I cover Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s administration with the blood of Jesus. God will show him the path of life. And he will take good decisions,” Fr Mbaka said.

Recall that Fr Mbaka reportedly predicted defeat for Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi – a forecast that earned the cleric suspension, and months in “purgatory” imposed by the supervisory Catholic Cathedral. But Fr Mbaka – excoriated for his prediction by mostly young supporters in the ObIdients Movement that back Mr Obi’s presidential run – has words for the youths ahead of Tinubu’s government.

“I also want to use this medium to urge the Nigerian youths to be calm and hopeful with the incoming government.

“They should not give in to their fears, and not be disheartened. I say this because I can clearly perceive the hand of God upon our country, Nigeria.

“In Isaiah 41:10, the prophet declares, ‘Do not be afraid; do not be dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen thee; yes, I will help thee; yes, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.'”

On May 7, Pastor Adeboye proclaimed that President-elect Tinubu would fix Nigeria with God’s help. This was at the monthly thanksgiving service at the RCCG headquarters in Ebute-Metta, Lagos, as relayed by his Special Assistant, Pastor Dele Balogun.

It’s unclear if it’s a prophesy, as Pastor Adeboye had declined the bait in April 2022 to prognosticate the outcome of the 2023 General Election.

He had declared then: “As I am standing before you, I still don’t know whether there will be election next year… I don’t know because my father (God) hasn’t talked to me about it at all.”

But this time, Pastor Adeboye said Nigeria would prosper under Tinubu’s administration, and urged the President-elect “to fulfill Nigerians’ dream of a new nation.”

“Thank God the President-elect has promised to fix Nigeria. If God helps him, Nigeria will prosper in his hands.

“Let us pray for the incoming government that God will support it and give it the Grace to do the right thing,” Pastor Adeboye said.

To Primate Ayodele, “only God can stop the inauguration ceremony of the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on May 29,” a statement by his Media Aide, Oluwatosin Osho, said on May 7.

A renowned weekly predictor of events around the globe – with emphasis on politics in Nigeria – Primate Ayodele had initially foreclosed victory for Tinubu at the primaries and general election, forecasting he might not survive the electoral process due to alleged ill-heath.

But foretelling the May 29 outing, the cleric said nobody could stop Tinubu’s certification “even though the (APC) Muslim-Muslim combination doesn’t correlate with God’s plan for Nigeria, and will lead to hard times for the country.”

“Nobody can stop Tinubu from being inaugurated as the President of Nigeria on May 29; only God can stop him,” Primate Ayodele said.

Indicating he doesn’t support the Muslim-Muslim ticket, as “God has never approved the combination for Nigeria, Ayodele said, “there are consequences the country will face as a result of that. Nigeria will face hard times with Muslim-Muslim ticket.”

He advised Obi against wasting his resources in court to reclaim his alleged “stolen mandate” at the February 25 poll, because “he didn’t win the election,” and “he can’t be president.”

“Peter Obi didn’t win the election, he can’t be president. Going to court for Obi is now a waste of money, time, and energy. He didn’t win the election, and even if he goes around the world, he still will not be declared winner,” Primate Ayodele said.

He revealed that prior to the election, he asked Obi to do certain things “if he wanted to win the presidential election, but he didn’t do any, which was responsible for his loss at the polls,” he added.

Dr Agbakoba had canvassed a shorter timeframe for disposal of petitions before inauguration of the new President, but that’s unlikely before May 29, as pre-hearings are ongoing at the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC).

But in a statement on May 15, he stressed observance to the rule of law in Tinubu’s inauguration, saying, “we need to obey the rule of constitutionalism.”

“It is important to state that the inauguration of Mr Bola Tinubu on 29 May 2023 is bound to happen under our constitutional process,” Agbakoba said.

“While the election tribunal deals with the petitions, there is no constitutional process to delay the inauguration on 29 May,” he added.

The Tinubu-must-not-be-sworn-in groups aren’t relenting, pursuing diverse schemes, including simultaneous filing of petitions at the PEPC, and writs at the normal courts – with the same or similar prayers – to stop him from the office of President, citing series of alleged malfeasance against him.

The allegations range from certificate forgery, financial sleaze, drugs trafficking, and money laundering to dual nationality, and electoral malpractice.

The latest gambit is an exparte application at a Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, seeking to compel the Inspector General of Police to investigate and prosecute Tinubu for alleged dual citizenship.

The aim is to deny him (and Shettima) access into the Eagle Square, Abuja, on May 29, to take the Oaths and salutes as the 16th President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

Will the schemers succeed in their mission? It’s barely one week to achieve the unprecedented in a democratic setting in Nigeria!

* Mr Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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