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How Tinubu can tackle divisions, promote unity, by experts

The President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will be inaugurated in one more peaceful transmission of power from one democratically elected president to another. Ahead of the…

The President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will be inaugurated in one more peaceful transmission of power from one democratically elected president to another. Ahead of the election from which he emerged winner as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), however, there were many actions and/or inactions that saw Nigerians divided on an unprecedented scale along religious, regional and ethnic lines. How will these divisions affect governance? Does Tinubu have what it takes to unite the country? As part of a series of special reports heralding the May 29 swearing-in of the incoming president, Daily Trust seeks answers to these and other related questions.


The president-elect, Tinubu, has been charged to introduce policies of national reconciliation, as well as mainstream equity, diversity, and inclusion in his administration, as part of measures to address the growing divisions in the country.

Prior to the 2023 presidential election, Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world, witnessed a number of divisive moves and decisions – religious, ethnic, and regional, but despite that, the candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Tinubu was returned elected by INEC.

However, opinion leaders, party chieftains, and other stakeholders are of the view that the divisions in the voting pattern and results of the 2023 polls can be corrected if the president-elect sees the country as one entity.

The Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, Professor Umar Pate, who noted that there were both internal and external factors responsible for the divisions in Nigeria, stressed that it was the responsibility of the president-elect to ensure that the country remained united and strong towards a collective direction.

While noting that the poor management of the country’s diversity had led to wanton killings, destruction, and calls for secession, the scholar said a huge investment had been made to keep Nigeria one.

He said, “If you look at our constitution, even our political system, they are designed to give everyone a sense of belonging towards building the Nigeria of our dreams. But over time, breaches of these provisions have caused divisions.

“My advice to the incoming administration is to look at Nigeria as one entity; look at some of the frameworks we have developed over time to keep this country as one.

“It is about managing our diversity and serving the people, delivering the dividends of democracy and making them see the reason they should stay together; not deliberately doing things that violate this collective principle of togetherness.”

Prof Pate counseled that in addition to tackling insecurity, fixing infrastructure, and dealing with mistrust among Nigerians, the new administration should address corruption, which he identified as one of the factors undermining the unity of the country.

He said Nigerians would give maximum support to the government once everyone had a sense of responsibility and belonging.

He further said, “I am hoping that the administration will focus more on security, address corruption and look at infrastructure, as well as the area of education, civil service, and fairness generally as enshrined in our constitution to reflect the federal character principle.”

A top security risk management and intelligence specialist and MD of Beacon Consulting Limited, Dr. Kabir Adamu, stressed that marginalisation and its perception supported the structural imbalances that fuel insecurity in Nigeria.

While noting that the outcome of the 2023 general elections was influenced by ethnic and religious rhetoric as the major contestants sought to profit from the divisions, he said the fallout was minimised as the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, Labour Party’s (LP’s) Peter Obi, and other aggrieved contestants had embraced judicial process to seek redress.

He said, “The issues that heralded the 2023 general elections and the role played by almost all the three individuals and their political parties who emerged victorious and the first and second runner-ups, the APC, PDP, and LP, including the negative mobilisation along ethnic and religious lines, as well as voter suppression during the polls, are factors that impacted the process and outcome of the elections,” noting that to address the challenges, “The incoming administration should introduce an active policy of national reconciliation and mainstreaming equity, diversity, and inclusion so that all sections of Nigeria feel carried along.”

Dr. Adamu advised that both the outgoing and the incoming administrations must ensure non-interference with the ongoing judicial process in respect of the 2023 elections so that the courts would be seen to be free and fair in determining the cases.

A constitutional lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, who opined that Tinubu would need administrative dexterity to unite the nation, stressed that tackling insecurity, fixing infrastructure, as well as boosting the economy, would endear him to Nigerians.

The Executive Director of Development Specs Academy, Prof Okey Ikechukwu, admonished all the stakeholders, especially those who were seeking redress in court, to respect the outcome of the judicial process.

While noting that the fact that Tinubu had the least winning votes since the return of democracy in 1999 should not delegitimise his government since he fulfilled the requirement of having the majority votes cast with the required national spread, Prof Ikechukwu said there was a tendency for more divisive moves in the struggle for positions and appointments as seen in the race for the leadership of the National Assembly.

He said, “The division is increasing as things heat up over positions and appointments, but I expect things to get better as the president settles down and accommodates every interest. I also expect the president to let Nigerians, especially the political class, know that they can’t govern another country if Nigeria is destroyed.”

The Chairman of APC in Lagos State, Cornelius Ojelabi, noted that there was no doubt that Tinubu’s presidency would unite the country.

He said, “He has not been sworn in yet, but from what he had done in the past, we have no doubt that he will unite the country and make it more prosperous. Nigerians should wait till he is sworn in and they will see his moves as captured in his manifesto.”

Meanwhile, most chieftains of the PDP said they would not speak about the incoming administration until their case challenging the outcome of the poll was decided.

However, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, noted that the “legitimacy” of the Tinubu administration was still a subject of litigation.

His predecessor and spokesperson of the PDP 2023 PCC, Kola Ologbodiyan, also said, “The PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku, are in court so I won’t comment on governance until the case is decided.”

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