In his first official statement since his declaration as president-elect on 1 March, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu addresses Nigerians and the international community on what they should expect when he takes over the government of Africa’s most populous nation on 29 May.
Nigeria: at the Cusp of Renewed Hope
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 realize 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.
This is not the time for continued acrimony and partisan recrimination. These negative things can incite strong passions; but they are not the pathway to a better nation. 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.
What must concern us is not the growth of parties but the regrowth of old prejudices and bigotries such as ethnicity, creed and place of origin. As a nation and as individuals imbued with the love of God and of our fellow man, we are better than this. At some point we must decide whether we shall be enticed by the ills of the past or shall we more bravely and nobly be encouraged by the eminent prospect of a brighter future.
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.
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.
As your incoming president, I accept the task before me. There has been talk 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 abiilty 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.
To secure our nation and to make it prosperous must be our top priorities. We cannot sacrifice these goals to political expediencies. The whims of politics must take a backseat to the imperatives of governance.
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 all 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.
An important step toward restoring economic normalcy has been taken by the Supreme Court’s decision on the parity of old and new notes . This restores both the rule of law and economic decency. But this is not the end of the story. It is merely the beginning of a more comprehensive solution to our economic challenges.
Our Renewed Hope Action Plan outlines goals for greater economic growth in our cities and rural communities. We are committed to an economy of double-digit GDP growth, greater food security and one with a strengthened manufacturing base as well as an active digital economy where young people will have ample space to fulfill their dreams and aspirations.
I realize that I am the servant of a larger purpose. As such, I have gone straight to work.
My team and I have been daily engaged in discussions and meetings refining our ideas and policy solutions so that we can begin actively working toward the common good the very first day we assume office.
This great project called Nigeria beckons to us all.
I ask that we work together as Nigerians for Nigeria. Those who voted for me, I ask that you continue to believe in our policies and plans for the country. I also ask that you reach out to your brothers and sisters who did not vote as you did. Extend to them the hand of friendship, reconciliation and togetherness.
To those of you who did not vote for me, I ask you to believe in Nigeria and in the capacity of your fellow citizens, even those who voted differently than you. The better Nigeria I seek is not just for me and my supporters. It is equally yours.
I do not ask you to abandon your political preferences. That would be undemocratic. I do beseech you to answer the call of patriotic duty as the loyal opposition.
Remain loyal to the cause of a greater, more tolerant and just Nigeria. I too shall keep faith with this objective.
If we all play our proper roles, we shall begin the task of rebuilding our national home together, day by day, brick by brick notwithstanding our political differences.
As such, the victory of national progress will belong to all of us. The triumph of our nation’s democracy shall cite all of you as its very authors. This is how things should be.
Dear Nigerians, this is our country. This is our moment. We dare not waste it. Nor do we back away to accept a lesser version of ourselves and of our collective fate. We can no longer be satisfied with calling ourselves the giant of Africa. We must devote ourselves to doing those great and historic things only a giant can do. As your president elect, I shall do my utmost in this regard for this is my sworn duty.
I call upon you to come bravely forth as well, not for me but out of abiding love of country and for the people who inhabit it with you. We are so much better than we have been. Now is the time to stand fast and have faith in what this nation can be.
I, for one, am standing. But this time, I shall not be the last or only one standing. Imagine how great we can be if over 200 million other souls stand with me. Let the world see a Nigeria that nothing can stop.
Abuja, 16 March 2023