Nigeria’s President-elect, Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday, condemned the physical and verbal assaults meted out to voters in some states of the federation during last Saturday’s governorship and Houses of Assembly elections.
Tinubu also called for reconciliation and healing with the elections over.
But in a swift reaction, on Tuesday, the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, dismissed Tinubu’s call for healing after a violent election as the height of hypocrisy.
Tinubu, in a statement he personally signed, expressed sadness about the reported infractions during the elections and its aftermath in some states.
The president-elect said, in the statement titled, “Elections Are Over: Healing Process Must Begin,” noted that election was pivotal to the growth and sustenance of democracy and democratic governance at the state level.
He added that consolidating democratic governance at the sub-national level would bring more development and improved quality of life to the masses.
According to him, “The more we entrench and consolidate the gains of our democratic venture across the length and breadth of our country, the more our people benefit in terms of dividends of democracy and good governance.”
Tinubu added, “However, I’m saddened by the reported isolated infractions during the elections and its aftermath in some states. I strongly condemn it. Also, the report of arson after the announcement of governorship results in one state did not represent who we truly are: peace-loving people.
“The physical and verbal assaults committed are unacceptable and antithetical to democratic ethos.
“Elections should be a celebration of our maturing democracy and freedom of choice and ought not to be moments of grief. I am particularly pained by cases of ethnic slurs, which are capable of creating needless mis-characterisation reported in some locations.”
The president elect appealed to all Nigerians to rise above individual differences, “which, in reality, are fewer than the valued strings that bind the nation together as a people irrespective of the circumstances of birth.”
Tinubu noted that as former governor of Lagos State, he could attest to the strength of the country’s diversity and togetherness.
He stated, “As your president-elect, it is that spirit of inclusiveness we engendered in Lagos that I intend to bring into national governance so that together we can attain our full potential.
“I will give priority to expanding the civic space and safeguarding citizens’ freedom to exercise their rights within the bounds of the law.”
The president-elect stressed that elections were over and the people had voted to elect their governors and state legislators that would serve them for the next four years, saying the time for leadership and governance is now upon the elected representatives.
He stressed that in a democracy, the majority would have their way, but added that the majority must not suppress the minority from having their say.
Furthermore, Tinubu said as democrats, “they have to safeguard free expression,” adding that winners must be magnanimous and those who did not win should have a large heart for tolerance and respect for the greater interest of the nation.
He stressed that as the elected, the only way to justify the trust and confidence of the people and the mandate entrusted in them was to commit themselves to the service of the people.
The president-elect said he and his team must work diligently and sincerely to make life better for the masses, saying as elected officers, they have no other assignment than to be burden-bearers for the masses and ensure they have better life that they promised during the campaigns.
He said, “We must take urgent steps to unite the people; those who voted for us and those who did not. We must champion the healing process by embracing the opponents and their supporters. As I have stated previously, the time for à is gone. This is time for nation building, a task beyond one individual or a section of the society. We need every hand from wherever it may come to be on deck.”
Meanwhile, responding to Tinubu’s statement, Atiku dismissed the former Lagos State governor’s call for healing after a violent election as the height of hypocrisy.
The former vice president, however, commended the United States government for condemning the violent and ethnically charged election in Lagos State. Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, in a statement, described Tinubu’s statement as an after-thought and hypocritical garbage.
He said it was curious that Tinubu was talking about reconciliation after his minions attacked Igbo voters in Lagos in order to give his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), advantage during the governorship election.
Shaibu said Tinubu had continued to protect transport hooligans, politicians and even traditional leaders in Lagos who were seen on video threatening non-indigenes.
He said, “Tinubu’s latest statement is laced with hypocrisy and lies. For a whole month, traditional leaders, transport hooligans and politicians in his camp threatened non-indigenes but Tinubu kept mute.
“His lackey, MC Oluomo, who is a member of his Presidential Campaign Council, was seen on video threatening Igbo people but Tinubu said nothing. His campaign spokesmen, Bayo Onanuga and Femi Fani-Kayode, went on social media to warn Igbo people against exercising their franchise but Tinubu looked the other way.
“Traditional rulers imposed curfews and went about slaughtering goats and placing them in front of polling units but Tinubu said nothing.
“A traditional leader and council chairman in Gbara community, Eti Osa local government, summoned non-indigenes to a meeting where they threatened non-indigenes with eviction if they failed to vote for the APC but Tinubu said nothing.
“Those invited by the police ignored invitations because Tinubu is shielding them.
“On the day of election, many people who looked Igbo were beaten and prevented from voting, but Tinubu kept mute. Now that his party has stolen the election, he has found his voice and is preaching reconciliation. He should tell that to the marines.
‘If Tinubu is serious, he should ensure that all those found culpable are arrested and prosecuted. But we know he cannot do this because he is their godfather.”
Shaibu also described the statement by the US Embassy in Nigeria condemning the violence meted out to the Igbo as a welcome development.
He, however, said the US ought to have gone further by mentioning the names of those found culpable and exposing the identities of those it would hit with visa restrictions.
Atiku’s aide added, “We commend the US and the EU governments for condemning the violence and intimidation that marred the governorship election especially in Lagos where Tinubu’s henchmen held the state to ransom.
“But the US knows the identities of the perpetrators of violence and ought to have mentioned their names. MC Oluomo is an American citizen. The US must also go further by mentioning the names of others, including the traditional rulers in Lagos who were complicit.
“The US has in the past openly condemned Vladmir Putin of Russia and others found wanting in other countries. This is not the time for political correctness. Those who will be slammed with visa bans should be named and shamed.”
Shaibu maintained that there could be no reconciliation without restitution. He said anything short of this would not heal any wounds.
Atiku’s aide further argued that Tinubu had shown from his electioneering that he had no plan to unite Nigeria but was only after one thing – power and the resources of Nigeria.
He said, “Tinubu is only after power. Before he took over power, Lagos was known for its urbane and accommodating nature. The late Nnamdi Azikiwe built his political base and business empire in Lagos.
“Mbonu Ojike, born in Imo State, was the Deputy Mayor of Lagos in 1951. Many others from around the country and beyond built businesses and political careers in Lagos unmolested.
“But on Bola Tinubu’s watch, Lagos has become an intolerant state where non-indigenes are openly beaten on election day and threatened with eviction if they don’t vote for his party. Now he seeks reconciliation? What a joke!
“There will be no reconciliation until MC Oluomo and all his minions who took part in issuing threats and brutalising people are diligently prosecuted.”
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja