Wednesday’s verdict by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) that upheld the election of Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu as duly elected president did not come to many as a surprise, except for those irredeemable optimists, largely comprising party loyalists, who predicted, albeit wrongly, that the former governor of Lagos State was poised to be thrown out from the corridor of power. With no historical proof to back up their flawed hope, the enthusiastic expectations tumbled down like a house built on shifting sands. In the eyes of the learned Justices who reviewed the conduct of the 2023 presidential poll, the tribunal declared the victory of President Tinubu as unquestionable.
Hoping on illusion
For those who erroneously hoped that the PEPT would throw Tinubu and nullify his electoral victory, they failed to take into cognisance the fact that in the history of democratic governance in Nigeria, no presidential poll has ever been annulled. If that had never been, one wonders how and where they got the confidence that the verdict could turn into a bleak story for Tinubu who once declared that the presidency is his life ambition.
The presidency is the most sought after Lady of Power and Pleasure who resides in Aso Rock Villa, Abuja. She is the ultimate goal for political suitors seeking the highest political power in the country. Once admitted into her palatial palace, the occupant of the presidency becomes almost an invisible being to forces fighting to dethrone him. In Aso Rock Villa, the president is constantly courted by the 36 governors, including his appointee who represents him as Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, for attention. Not only does the president see things revolve around him, his numerous cronies from different parts of the country see themselves as eyes and noses for the husband of Lady Aso Rock.
The stark reality is that it is almost an impossibility to invalidate the victory of a president who has consummated his marriage with Lady Aso Rock. It is even more difficult, considering the present system that enthrones all forms of back door manipulations, to deny the renewal of marital vows to a President who had been exposed to the sensual and pleasure of political power enjoyed by any sitting president.
Obasanjo, et al
Even the pardoned ex-prisoner, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, could not contemplate the worrying possibility of returning to the life of an ordinary citizen. To stop that, he allegedly embarked on the ‘Third Term’ campaign that sought to elongate his administration beyond the constitutionally stipulated eight years of two terms. It took the collective and strenuous efforts of past presidents, lawmakers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, media, religious leaders, among others, to frustrate the tenure elongation quest. If the ‘Third Term’ campaign which Obasanjo denied had scaled through, then that would not have been the end of the matter as fourth, fifth and even life presidency would have followed.
A former president who saw the future and quickly surrendered his re-election quest was President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Having ascended the presidency after the death of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in May 2010, the man who walked barefooted to school promised to run only one term in order to allow power returned to the North in 2015. That was the basis upon which his then godfather, Obasanjo, sold him to the country, especially the North, for support in 2011.
Four years in power exposed the son of the fisherman to the pleasure of life in the arms of Lady Aso Rock. He was determined not to let go of power and completely forgot his one-term promise that had earned him victory at the 2011 polls. Despite protests by Nigerians, especially his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he threw his hat in the ring for re-election. Even before the conduct of the 2015 presidential poll, it was clear that Jonathan’s presidential ambition faced a behemoth of opposition.
When he conceded victory to then General Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan proved himself a patriot who conquered his lust for Lady Aso Rock. His disposition and actions leading to accepting electoral defeat in 2015 were founded on his stoic character of placing national interest above personal ambition. I gathered reliably from a top official of government privy to what played out during that time that Jonathan’s mother played a greater influence on him than some of his aides who insisted otherwise. As a good son of a good mother, Jonathan spared the nation of having to witness the prognosis of the monkeys and gorillas being soaked in blood over the outcome of the 2015 presidential poll.
Then the old soldier, Major General Buhari, also known as ‘Mai Gaskiya’ (The Truth Bearer) came. Within the first year of his administration, it was clear even to the blind that he had no vision beyond mouthing a commitment to fight the twin monster of corruption and insecurity. Under Buhari, Nigeria was taken down the bottomless pit of both local and foreign debts that was made worse by spiraling insecurity, among other challenges.
For the first time in the history of our nation, ethnicity and religion became effective weapons of religious and political subjugation of groups as brigands and other criminal elements unleashed terror on various parts of the country. Boko Haram, decimated in the North-east, relocated their terror operations to other parts of the country, especially the North-west and North-central geo-political zones. Getting a re-election for the former Head of State should have been herculean if not impossible. Sadly, the former Head of State from Daura swept the 2019 presidential poll and was re-elected for a second and final term.
Why should it be different now?
Of course, our electoral laws have undergone changes, but not sufficient enough to cleanse the electoral processes of flaws. For instance, why must the laws subject a sitting president to legal fireworks over the validity of his electoral victory after consummating his four-year marriage with the Lady of Power and Pleasure? As a president with all presidential powers, why should his cronies not be expected to deploy state resources to weaken any form of opposition against the judicial confirmation of their principal’s electoral victory?
If the past is devoid of any form of such a possibility that terminated the marriage of a sitting president with the Lady of Power and Pleasure, can we now expect anything different? The answer is certainly in the negative. Going through the PEPT verdict, it is easier for a camel to pass through the needle’s eye than for the opposition to prove that the polls were rigged to enable any president go through the back door to wed Lady Aso Rock.
This week’s verdict has thrown up many issues that are generating discordant tunes among legal luminaries. Both Abubakar Atiku and Peter Obi have expressed their intentions to challenge this week’s verdict at the Supreme Court. Even though some Nigerians, including yours sincerely, don’t expect anything different, the planned appeal is necessary for the development of our legal jurisprudence. Since democracy is an ongoing process and not a destination, our lawmakers should review our electoral laws in order to strengthen and deepen our democracy.
For now, the possibility of annulling any presidential wedding with Lady Aso Rock is still in the realm of infertile imagination.