Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the President-elect, dampened supporters of a government of national unity’s optimism by praising competence above such a political structure.
In appointing his cabinet, he claimed that his goal was higher than a government of national unity and that he would rather pursue a government of national competency rather than making appointees on the basis of religion.
Tinubu spoke in a signed statement on Thursday titled, “Nigeria: At the Cusp of Renewed Hope, ’’ marking his first official statement after his declaration as president-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission on March 1.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party were all defeated by the All Progressives Congress’ presidential candidate, who received 8, 794, 726 votes overall.
The second- and third-place finishers in the election, Abubakar and Obi, respectively, are contesting the results in court and rejecting Tinubu’s offer of an arm of friendship. To calm the uproar over the election results, some Nigerians did consider forming a government of national unity.
Addressing Nigerians on the issue, the president-elect in the statement said, “As your incoming president, I accept the task before me. There have been talks of a government of national unity. My aim is higher than that. I seek a government of national competence. In selecting my government, I shall not be weighed down by considerations extraneous to ability and performance. The day for political gamesmanship is long gone. I shall assemble competent men and women and young people from across Nigeria to build a safer, more prosperous and just Nigeria. There shall be young people. Women shall be prominent. Whether your faith leads you to pray in a church or mosque will not determine your place in government. Character and competence will.’’
The former governor of Lagos State remarked that a fair and credible election was held and won while commenting on the presidential election, the conduct of which was also criticized by some. He also asserted the rights of competitors who were wronged to file a lawsuit.
He said, “A fair, credible election has been held and has been won. The honour of that victory and the steep responsibility it entails has fallen on me. I say this not to gloat or boast because there is no room for such behaviour. I merely state the facts as they are. I realise many good and well-meaning Nigerians voted for other candidates. They are naturally disappointed that their favoured candidate did not win. Other candidates have voiced their dissatisfaction, stating they will go to court to contest the election. This is inherent to the democratic process. We defend their right to seek legal recourse. While they exercise the legal rights afforded them in our democracy, I have set my course and mind on the leadership of this nation. We have important work to do and I am committed to getting that work done for the benefit of all the people, whether or not they voted for me or even voted at all.’’
Tinubu noted that while negative things could stir up powerful emotions, they were not the way to a better country, stating that the time was not right for more animosity and political blame-laying.
The president-elect noted, “Only unity and national commitment can serve that purpose. Critics of Nigeria have been too quick to conclude that our political system is fragmented because of the impressive showing of new parties and their candidates.
“These critics are wrong. The emergence of the new parties and their candidates underscores the dynamic strength of our democracy. People want democracy to work and they want to have their voices heard and interests met within it. This is a good thing to be promoted, not something to be feared.’’
He asserts that Nigerians should be worried about the resurgence of ancient prejudices and bigotries, such as those based on ethnicity, creed, and country of origin, rather than the expansion of political parties.
Nigerians, he said, are better than this because they are a people who love God and their neighbor, and they must eventually choose whether to be seduced by the evils of the past or more heroically and nobly encouraged by the imminent hope of a better future.
The president-elect said, “There have been times in our past when our governing institutions created more questions than they answered. But the arc of our political history gives me confidence that we can overcome that past. We have walked through the thick of the night to emerge into the light of brighter days to come. There is no good reason to retreat into the darkness of years past.’’
Urging nation rebuilding and repair, he said, “We must begin to repair and rebuild this national home of ours. There is time to complete the task, but time is also of the essence. We must not tarry or fret over the enormity of what we face. We are able of mind and body. Now, we must show the spirit and willpower to accomplish the historic things that lie within our grasp.’’
Stating that securing Nigeria and making it prosperous must be top priorities, he said that Nigerians cannot sacrifice these goals to political expediencies and the whims of politics must take a backseat to the imperatives of governance.
Tinubu explained, “We have bridges and roads to build not just for commerce and travel but to connect people of different faiths, parties and different outlooks in harmonious dialogue and common purpose. We have families to feed not just to eliminate hunger but to nurture enlightenment, civic responsibility and compassion. We have jobs to create not merely to put people to work but to afford a better standard of living by which families and communities are improved and democracy deepened. We have water to replenish not just to quench physical thirst but to ignite a thirst for creative and better solutions to society’s challenges. We have a nation to protect such that we eliminate danger and even the fear of danger. May all of our people be able to live their lives in the light of peace and the glow of broadening prosperity.’’
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