The Federal Government has said that in spite of Thursday’s judgment that affirmed the victory of President Bola Tinubu, he is open to working with the major contenders in the February 25 presidential election; Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said this on Friday as a sequel to Thursday’s Supreme Court judgment that affirmed Tinubu as the winner of the election while dismissing the appeals filed by Obi and Atiku.
The apex court on Thursday upheld the September 6 ruling of the Presidential Election Petitions Court.
The five-member panel of the PEPC, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, in a unanimous judgment, dismissed the petitions by Atiku, Obi and the Allied People’s Movement challenging Tinubu’s victory.
Dissatisfied by the ruling of the PEPC, the PDP and LP presidential candidates filed an appeal before the Supreme Court. They respectively asked the apex court to annul Tinubu’s victory and declare them as winners.
The seven-man panel of the Supreme Court was led by Justice Inyang Okoro, while other justices on the panel were Uwani Aji, Mohammed Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, Abubakar Tijjani, and Emmanuel Agim agreed with the lead judgment dismissing Atiku and Obi’s appeals.
But following the Supreme Court’s Thursday ruling that brought the litigation to a conclusive end, the minister in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday night said the President remained open to work with the opposition.
Asked if Tinubu would be ready to work with both Atiku and Obi, Idris stated, “Since the President won this election, he has always invited people to come and join him for the good of Nigeria. Mr President is not the kind of person to say ‘I have become president, everybody should go away’. No. They (Atiku and Obi) are the ones that have not heeded that call.
“Anytime any of them is willing to join hands with the President, why not? The President is open and willing to accommodate everybody, irrespective of religious, social and political affiliation so that we can all join hands for Nigeria to go forward.”
Earlier at a news conference in Abuja on Friday, he called on Nigerians to put the election matters behind them and join hands together with the government to tackle the myriads of challenges confronting the nation.
He said the President had made it clear that he would be a President for all Nigerians, irrespective of their regional, ethnic, partisan or religious affiliations. He added that Tinubu, since assuming office on May 29, had been working tirelessly to actualise the Renewed Hope Agenda that formed the basis of his campaign.
He stated further, “The courts have spoken and the President and the governing party, the All Progressives Congress, have welcomed this judicial victory as pronounced. We thank the judiciary for the painstaking work that they have done and for rising up to the occasion in fulfilment of their constitutional mandate as the final arbiters of electoral proceedings in the country.
“Now that the legal contest regarding the outcome of the presidential election is now behind us, it is time for all of us to come together and move forward, into a season of governing that is without distraction.
These are indeed challenging economic times, not just for Nigeria, but also for many countries around the world, and all hands must be on deck to tackle the challenges confronting us.”
In a related development, the minister said the Federal Government was planning a national discourse to address the issues of national values and unity. He stressed that the discourse would be distinct from the constitutional conference organised by previous governments, saying this had nothing to do with the constitution but national orientation.
He stated in the interview, “It’s true the Federal Government is planning a national discourse for national orientation. It’s a discourse for us to look at our nation again and decide where we want to be as a nation, and citizens and everybody would key into that.
“Everybody knows what they are expecting from Nigeria and citizens can also do a lot for their country. We need to agree on the kind of nation we want to build. What our founding fathers left for us is gradually being eroded. Trust in the leadership has waned over the years and that is clear.
“We must agree on what we want as a country, where we want to be and then work collectively towards achieving that. There would be a national discourse so that Nigerians would have the consciousness about their country and strive towards keeping that for the benefit of all.”
Asked when the discourse would hold, he said the decision had yet to be taken but that it would hold soon, noting, “The previous ones were for constitutional reforms but this one is about all the key segments of the society coming together; youth, women, elders, religious leaders, professionals. There will be representation. We will come together to agree on the set values that we want to promote as a country so that everybody will move in that direction. The difference is that this is about value orientation that all of us will collectively agree on.”