For Nigerians and their friends across the globe, today is a very special day as their country inaugurates a new president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who will be presiding over the affairs of the country for the next four years. It is a new dawn after eight years that, many believe, were inglorious years of lost identity and missed opportunities.
For them, today’s event is a watershed and, for the new president, we believe, it is a sobering moment as he prepares his mind and body for the task ahead after the glitz and glamour that will characterise his inauguration as Nigeria’s fifth civilian president.
Today’s event calls for sober reflection for both the president and the citizens. Ordinarily, it would have called for celebration by all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion or political persuasion. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, meaning that all is not well in the country.
If at all there is anything for Nigerians to cheer about today, it is their disengagement from an era that set them backwards a decade or more; it is about a break from the Buhari years that are better described as years of the locust. For them it is a happy goodbye to Buhari which, in the words of late Bola Ige, it’s “good riddance to bad rubbish.” We need not say more.
In spite of his inauguration, Tinubu’s declared victory in the February 25 polls is steeped in controversy, due to several significant problems. The electoral commission’s failure to collate ballots transparently and questions about Tinubu’s eligibility for the top post have prompted legal challenges to the results.
Most worryingly, some ethnic and religious groups, along with millions of youths, are having a heightened sense of exclusion and disillusionment after the election, meaning that the new authorities will face big challenges in easing tensions.
Tinubu secured 37 per cent of the votes on a very poor turnout, according to the electoral commission, (INEC) and therefore cannot be said to be carrying the country behind him. He has a weak mandate.
All these and more have placed an enormous moral burden on the new president and tell him, unequivocally, that a lot is expected from him. Arguably, at no other time had Nigeria been more divided along ethnic and religious lines than it is today which means that Tinubu is inheriting a divided and fatally fractured country that needs to be healed and united urgently.
Some Nigerians don’t have any sense of belonging in the project called Nigeria. It was a sad commentary on the country in the past eight years that the government of the day chose to exclude some sections of the country not only from governance circles, but also from the distribution of political positions and execution of projects for the development of the country.
What the country saw within this period was a brazen display of intolerance, nepotism and ethnic bigotry. We therefore expect Tinubu to have a break from this ugly past and be a Nigerian president and father of all. We also expect him to be the president of those who voted for him and even those that did not, and those who are Nigerians of the homestead and those of the farmland.
It is our expectation too that Tinubu presidency should demonstrate that he has come as the father of all by distancing himself from the old order of being the president of only a section of the country while making others mere spectators in their own game.
President Tinubu should have enough strength of character to make him admit that his election has legitimacy issues but that Nigerians have decided to put all that behind them so that, as a people and as a nation, they can move on, hence his inauguration today.
Nigeria, apart from being fractured along ethnic and religious lines, has also been under siege in the last eight years which is why, in our view, Tinubu has come to do the toughest job known to man in the whole world. He is expected to assemble the country’s best team to help him tackle the problems.
Whether the story is about poverty, insecurity, corruption or economy, it is the same 12 and one dozen. Insecurity is a major challenge that Nigeria is facing as a country. It is a major reason many Nigerians have relocated to foreign land. It is expected that Tinubu should prioritise fighting this monster with a view to putting an end to it so that Nigerians abroad can be encouraged to return and contribute to the development of the country,
It is on record that many foreign firms closed shop and turned their back on the country for reasons of insecurity. Similarly, intending investors have been scared from coming to invest in the country because they are not sure of the safety of their investment.
For the safety of lives and properties, and in order to attract foreign direct investment, we urge President Tinubu to fight insecurity with more commitment and investment than the country has ever seen, especially in the last eight years.
Nigerians are not greedy in their demands from their government. Today, most people, especially those on low income, find it difficult to meet their basic needs including food and house rent. This is because inflation has not only eroded the value of the little they have, but also pushed commodity prices and cost of living to unimaginable levels.
An average Nigeria would like to go to the market and buy things cheaply; he would like to go home and switch on electric light; sleep with both eyes closed; walk to the filling station and get his fuel and cooking gas cheaply without having to queue for hours.
He also needs to be secure both at home and on the road. A situation where a whole village or community is attacked, displaced and forced to relocate to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps does not speak well of the government of any country.
We, therefore, expected that the new president should do something about all these and give the citizens reason to have hope in their country. He should carry out reforms in critical sectors of the economy. We expect to see changes or, at least, positive signs of change within his first 100 days in office.
We are, however, not unmindful of the challenges the new president will face, ranging from economic to political, religious, ethnic, banditry, etc. But we believe that he is not unaware of these burning issues. Be that as it may, we want Tinubu to recognise that Nigeria is a complex society where some challenges will not just disappear, but they have to be mitigated to manageable levels.
To succeed, Tinubu will be needing the cooperation of all Nigerians and this is why we urge all and sundry to put the past behind them and cooperate with the new president to steer the ship of state to a safe anchor where all will be happy and be proud to called Nigerians.
We believe that it is only by so doing that hope could be truly renewed.