The President-elect, Bola Tinubu, has extended an olive branch to his opponents, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, after the contentious presidential election in which he was declared the winner on Wednesday.
Tinubu said political competition must now give way to conciliation and inclusive governance.
The Independent National Electoral Commission declared the former senator the winner of the election after he polled 8,794,726 votes.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, announced Tinubu as the winner at the International Collation Centre in Abuja during the early hours of Wednesday.
But the PDP, LP and the New Nigeria Peoples Party agents walked out of the hall and refused to sign the election results sheet of the presidential election.
They rejected the declaration of Tinubu as president-elect after accusing the INEC of compromise, insisting that the election should be cancelled, and a fresh poll conducted.
The commission later presented the certificates of return to Tinubu and the vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima around 4pm.
Tinubu, together with Shettima, is expected to be sworn in as the President and Vice-President of Nigeria on May 29, 2023.
In his acceptance speech, Tinubu expressed gratitude to Nigerians and assured them that he would be the chief servant and serve Nigeria with all he has got.
“I will serve you; be your servant and not your leader. I will work with you and make Nigeria a great country,” Tinubu said at the APC Presidential Campaign Council headquarters in Abuja shortly after he was declared the winner of the presidential poll.
At the event were the vice president-elect, APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, and APC governors, among others.
He lauded his fellow candidates for the contest and requested them to work with him for the good of the country, noting that they might have been his opponents in the election, but they were never his enemies.
Tinubu stated, “Finally, I thank the Nigerian people for their abiding belief in our democracy. I shall be a fair leader to all Nigerians. I will be in tune with your aspirations, charge up your energies and harness your talents to deliver a nation that we can be proud of.
“To my fellow candidates, former Vice-President Atiku, former governor Kwankwaso, former governor Obi and all others, I extend the hand of friendship. This was a competitive, high-spirited campaign. You have my utmost respect. Let’s collaborate and work together. I promise to work with you. Political competition must now give way to political conciliation and inclusive governance.”
Speaking further, Tinubu observed that some of the candidates might find it hard to accept the election results.
Court of law
Conceding that it is their right to seek legal recourse, the President-elect stated, ‘’What is neither right nor defensible is for anybody to resort to violence. Any challenge to the electoral outcome should be made in a court of law, and not in the streets.
‘’I also ask my supporters to let peace reign and tensions fade. We ran a principled, peaceful and progressive campaign. The aftermath of our campaign must be as benign.
‘’Yes, there are divisions amongst us that should not exist. Many people are uncertain, angry and hurt; I reach out to every one of you. Let the better aspects of our humanity step forward at this fateful moment. Let us begin to heal and bring calm to our nation.’’
The former Lagos State governor commended Nigerians, particularly those who voted for the opposition parties, saying their move helped in deepening democracy in the country.
Reaching out to the youths, he said, ‘’Now, to you, the young people of this country, I hear you loud and clear. I understand your pains, and your yearnings for good governance, a functional economy and a safe nation that protects you and your future.
“I am aware that for many of you, Nigeria has become a place of abiding challenges limiting your ability to see a bright future for yourselves. Remodelling our precious national home requires the harmonious efforts of all of us, especially the youth. Working together, we shall move this nation as never before.’’
Tinubu said he and Shettima understood the challenges ahead and were ready to undertake the difficult tasks that would put the nation on the path of progress.
“Hold us firmly to account, but please give us a chance first. Together, we shall build a brighter and more productive society for today, tomorrow and for years to come,’’ he pledged.
He further said, “Whether you are Batified, Atikulated, Obidient, Kwankwasiyya, or have any other political affiliation, you voted for a better, more hopeful nation and I thank you for your participation and dedication to our democracy.
“You decided to place your trust in the democratic vision of a Nigeria founded on shared prosperity and one nurtured by the ideals of unity, justice, peace and tolerance. Renewed hope has dawned in Nigeria.”
He commended INEC for “running a free and fair election,’’ and argued that the lapses that did occur were relatively few in number and were immaterial to the final outcome.
Speaking after receiving his certificate of return, Tinubu promised to work relentlessly for the betterment of the country, noting, however, that this cannot be achieved alone.
He urged Nigerians irrespective of political parties to come together to develop the nation.
In his speech titled, ‘To serve the people’, Tinubu assured Nigerians especially youths that he would work day and night to improve the country.
The President-elect said “To you the people, especially the youths, I will work day and night. I will work to the utmost of my ability to make Nigeria better.
“For this to be a victory at all, it cannot simply be a victory for one man or even one party. It must become a victory for all Nigerians who are committed to a greater society.”
President-elect visits Buhari
The President-elect visited Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, where he again urged the main opposition parties to stomach their defeat at the February 25 Presidential election.
He said, as democrats, the parties must set their grievances aside and focus on building the nation.
“No matter how provocative a defeat is, we still have to tolerate it because we are democrats and we are trying to build a nation,” Mr Tinubu said when he visited the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at his private residence in Daura, Katsina State, late Wednesday.
However, Tinubu who was in Daura to present his certificate of return to his soon-to-be predecessor urged the parties to focus on building the nation.
“I came to present the certificate of return to him (Buhari) as the party leader and commend his efforts in supporting democracy in Africa.
“This is the largest democracy in Africa and he couldn’t have done any better. We are lucky there is no incident, there is no accident, and no matter how provocative a defeat is, we still have to tolerate it because we are democrats and we are trying to build a nation,” he said.
He described Buhari as a loyal party leader who is willing and committed to transferring power peacefully.
Tinubu said “Well, the calmness and commitment and the fact that after voting, he taught us again, dedication to our party by displaying his ballot papers, loyalty to the party and being ready to create a future for all of us.
“And no matter how tempting the problem of democracy is, he is following the process, building a successor and ready to hand over peacefully, you know in Africa it’s a big deal you know.”
The former Lagos State governor also said he had received countless congratulatory messages from world leaders, including French President, Emmanuel Macron.
He also noted that the stock market was reacting positively to his victory.
“Oh! (I have received) very many, many of that. In fact, as far as Europe, the stock market reacted positively well, there was a goodwill message from Macron the President of France,” Tinubu said.
But smarting from the loss, the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Datti Baba-Ahmed, vowed that the LP would contest the outcome of the polls that produced the president-elect.
He made the pledge at a press conference held at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.
Baba-Ahmed stated that LP was determined to fight the injustice that dashed the hope of distraught Nigerians through all legal and peaceful means.
This is as the LP presidential campaign council claimed that the manner the electoral commission hurriedly announced the results and gave out certificates of return to both Tinubu and Shettima reeks of collusion.
Addressing journalists, he decried that the election did not meet the minimum standard as prescribed by INEC guidelines and the Electoral Act 2022.
He said, “It is our position that the purported result did not meet the minimum criteria of a transparent, free and fair election. In addition to the most condemnable attacks, violence, voter intimidation and suppression, the election was conducted in clear violation of agreed and promised INEC rules and guidelines, the Electoral Act 2002 as amended, and indeed the Nigerian Constitution.
“As evident, the institutions of the state and leaders that were supposed to ensure the sanctity of the election, again and as in the past collaborated and colluded to subvert the will of the good people of Nigeria.
“Please be assured of our determination to fight the injustice that has been perpetrated on Nigerians through all legal and peaceful means.
While painful, we implore you to please remain peaceful and calm. As our fight and determination for a New Nigeria are just beginning, we equally encourage you all to continue with the campaigns and vote massively for Labour Party in the forthcoming governorship and state house of Assembly election on Saturday 11th March 2023.
“Our Principal, His Excellency, Mr Peter Obi will in due course speak to you all and indeed the nation.”
The Chief Spokesman for the LP presidential campaign council, Yunusa Tanko, asserted that the drama leading to the presentation of the certificate of return to Tinubu was a well-rehearsed script.’’
On Tinubu’s call for a unity government, Tanko said that the party was not interested in his offer.
He added, “We said that we are going to court. We are not interested in discussing anything on the government of national unity. What we have so far resolved is to head to the court for redress.”
Also, the PDP presidential campaign council vowed to walk the whole distance to retrieve what it called the stolen mandate of its candidate, Atiku.
A spokesman for the PDP PCC, Senator Dino Melaye while appealing to Atiku’s supporters to remain calm, said, “This is a clarion call on all Atiku’s supporters all over the world not to be perturbed.
‘’Weeping may tarry till night but joy cometh in the morning. This grave injustice shall not stand. The battle to retrieve our stolen mandate is a battle of no retreat, no surrender. We shall overcome.”
Reacting to Tinubu’s victory in a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Wednesday, Buhari declared that he is the best man for the job, promising to work with him and his team to ensure an orderly handover of power.
He stated, “The election was Africa’s largest democratic exercise. In a region that has undergone backsliding and military coups in recent years, this election demonstrates democracy’s continued relevance and capability to deliver for the people it serves.
“Within Nigeria, the results reveal democracy’s ripening in our country. Never has the electoral map shifted so drastically in one cycle. In the presidential elections, states in all regions across the nation changed colour. Some of you may have noticed my home state among them.
‘’The winning candidate did not carry his own home state either. That happens during a competitive election. Votes and those that cast them cannot be taken for granted. Each must be earned. Competition is good for our democracy. There is no doubt that people’s decision has been rendered in the results we look at today.
“That is not to say the exercise was without fault. For instance, there were technical problems with the electronic transmission of the results. Of course, there will be areas that need work to bring further transparency and credibility to the voting procedure. However, none of the issues registered represents a challenge to the freeness and fairness of the elections.’’
Noting that some parties and candidates may not agree with his view, the President urged anyone who disagreed with the results to go to court.
He added, ‘’If any candidate believes they can prove the fraud they claim is committed against them, then bring forward the evidence. If they cannot, then we must conclude that the election was indeed the people’s will – no matter how hard that may be for the losers to accept. If they feel the need to challenge, please take it to the courts, not to the streets.
“However, to do the latter means they are not doing it in the interest of the people, but rather to inflame, to put people in harm’s way and all for personal, selfish gains.
“After a degree of polarization that necessarily accompanies any election, it is now time to come together and act responsibly. I call on all candidates to remember the peace pledge they signed just days before the election. Do not undermine the credibility of INEC. Let us now move forward as one. The people have spoken.”
In a communique, the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, General Umaru Embaló, said, ‘’We, the entire ECOWAS leadership, wish to convey our heartfelt congratulations to His Excellency Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his election as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“His Excellency General Embaló appeals to all the stakeholders to promote peace and to use constitutional means to address any grievances they may have.”
Also, the Federal Executive Council has congratulated Tinubu and Shettima on their victory at the February 25 election.
The council described Tinubu as a committed technocrat and party man who would move the country forward.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in a statement, said, on behalf of the Federal Executive Council, I congratulate the President-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima on their victory at the just concluded presidential election as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
“FEC notes that the President-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is a seasoned administrator, a technocrat of monumental proportion, astute politician and a committed party man, whose unrivalled determination is to move the country forward.’’
He expressed hope that Tinubu would consolidate on the successes of Buhari’s regime.
The SGF also urged Nigerians and aggrieved political parties to shun violence and rather employ legal means to seek redress as appropriate.
Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Transition Council, said he looks forward to working with the incoming administration and its team during the transition period.
In his goodwill message, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State described the APC candidate as a tribute to the resilience of the Nigerian people whose votes, he said, made it all possible.
In a congratulatory statement he personally signed on Wednesday, the governor said the victory “is a much-deserved triumph, reflecting the connection between dedicated effort and reward.”
According to El-Rufai, Tinubu’s success at the polls came amid the most onerous circumstances for the candidates of a ruling party, adding that it “underlines the scale of the hard work put in by the APC and its supporters.”
The governor pointed out that the APC “has a duty to repay this faith by providing purposeful governance that delivers progressive outcomes for all Nigerians.”
“I have no doubt that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu grasps the import of this victory and will move Nigeria forward with renewed hope. He knows he has our staunch support in bringing Nigerians together and uniting the country in common endeavours for progress, peace and prosperity,” he added.
The governor promised that Kaduna APC would build on this momentum to victory in the March 11 governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the Deputy Whip of the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi have also joined other well-wishers to felicitate with the President-elect.
Lawan, who spoke at the start of plenary on Wednesday, prayed that the country would see more development and progress under Tinubu’s leadership.
He also prayed that the 10th Senate would provide the kind of support that the President-elect would need for the betterment of the country.
In his congratulatory message, the senate deputy whip, Abdullahi extolled Tinubu’s qualities of Tinubu as a leader with ‘’a distinct ability to take Nigeria on the next phase of its national journey.’’
“Your emergence speaks so much about the unwavering confidence reposed in you as leaders with the distinct ability to take Nigeria on the next phase of its national journey,’’ the Niger North senator and coordinator, of Project 774 stated.
The Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, in a statement submitted that Tinubu’s election would lead to a new Nigeria.
Members of the House of Representatives equally celebrated the victory of the APC candidate.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the day’s plenary, hailed Nigerians at the close of the session.
Wase said, “Respected colleagues, I want to appreciate every Nigerian who is truly for democracy and who is supporting democracy, for their calmness, a show of love and to congratulate our brother, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for winning the presidential election.”
But the lawmakers interrupted Wase’s speech with a round of applause and the leader of the South-West Caucus, Olufemi Fayeye, signalled to members on the floor of the House to give the APC candidate a standing ovation.
The Deputy Speaker, in reaction to some members of the House, noted that the lawmakers were the true representatives of Nigerians “and I believe as democrats, we are happy with the turn of events.”
A former Governor of Ekiti State and immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, also congratulated the President-elect, while advocating a government of national unity.
Fayemi, in a statement by his media aide, Mallam Ahmad Sajoh, observed that the President-elect had over the years, “mentored a vast number of Nigeria’s political leadership and worked hard to develop and sustain progressive ideology in Nigeria.”