The President-elect, Bola Tinubu, has extended an olive branch to his opponents, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, after the contentious presidential election in which he was declared the winner on Wednesday.
Tinubu said political competition must now give way to conciliation and inclusive governance.
The Independent National Electoral Commission declared the former senator the winner of the election after he polled 8,794,726 votes.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, announced Tinubu as the winner at the International Collation Centre in Abuja during the early hours of Wednesday.
But the PDP, LP and the New Nigeria Peoples Party agents walked out of the hall and refused to sign the election results sheet of the presidential election.
They rejected the declaration of Tinubu as president-elect after accusing the INEC of compromise, insisting that the election should be cancelled, and a fresh poll conducted.
The commission later presented the certificates of return to Tinubu and the vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima around 4pm.
Tinubu, together with Shettima, is expected to be sworn in as the President and Vice-President of Nigeria on May 29, 2023.
In his acceptance speech, Tinubu expressed gratitude to Nigerians and assured them that he would be the chief servant and serve Nigeria with all he has got.
“I will serve you; be your servant and not your leader. I will work with you and make Nigeria a great country,” Tinubu said at the APC Presidential Campaign Council headquarters in Abuja shortly after he was declared the winner of the presidential poll.
At the event were the vice president-elect, APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, and APC governors, among others.
He lauded his fellow candidates for the contest and requested them to work with him for the good of the country, noting that they might have been his opponents in the election, but they were never his enemies.
Tinubu stated, “Finally, I thank the Nigerian people for their abiding belief in our democracy. I shall be a fair leader to all Nigerians. I will be in tune with your aspirations, charge up your energies and harness your talents to deliver a nation that we can be proud of.
“To my fellow candidates, former Vice-President Atiku, former governor Kwankwaso, former governor Obi and all others, I extend the hand of friendship. This was a competitive, high-spirited campaign. You have my utmost respect. Let’s collaborate and work together. I promise to work with you. Political competition must now give way to political conciliation and inclusive governance.”
Speaking further, Tinubu observed that some of the candidates might find it hard to accept the election results.
Court of law
Conceding that it is their right to seek legal recourse, the President-elect stated, ‘’What is neither right nor defensible is for anybody to resort to violence. Any challenge to the electoral outcome should be made in a court of law, and not in the streets.
‘’I also ask my supporters to let peace reign and tensions fade. We ran a principled, peaceful and progressive campaign. The aftermath of our campaign must be as benign.
‘’Yes, there are divisions amongst us that should not exist. Many people are uncertain, angry and hurt; I reach out to every one of you. Let the better aspects of our humanity step forward at this fateful moment. Let us begin to heal and bring calm to our nation.’’
The former Lagos State governor commended Nigerians, particularly those who voted for the opposition parties, saying their move helped in deepening democracy in the country.
Reaching out to the youths, he said, ‘’Now, to you, the young people of this country, I hear you loud and clear. I understand your pains, and your yearnings for good governance, a functional economy and a safe nation that protects you and your future.
“I am aware that for many of you, Nigeria has become a place of abiding challenges limiting your ability to see a bright future for yourselves. Remodelling our precious national home requires the harmonious efforts of all of us, especially the youth. Working together, we shall move this nation as never before.’’
Tinubu said he and Shettima understood the challenges ahead and were ready to undertake the difficult tasks that would put the nation on the path of progress.
“Hold us firmly to account, but please give us a chance first. Together, we shall build a brighter and more productive society for today, tomorrow and for years to come,’’ he pledged.
He further said, “Whether you are Batified, Atikulated, Obidient, Kwankwasiyya, or have any other political affiliation, you voted for a better, more hopeful nation and I thank you for your participation and dedication to our democracy.
“You decided to place your trust in the democratic vision of a Nigeria founded on shared prosperity and one nurtured by the ideals of unity, justice, peace and tolerance. Renewed hope has dawned in Nigeria.”
He commended INEC for “running a free and fair election,’’ and argued that the lapses that did occur were relatively few in number and were immaterial to the final outcome.
Speaking after receiving his certificate of return, Tinubu promised to work relentlessly for the betterment of the country, noting, however, that this cannot be achieved alone.
He urged Nigerians irrespective of political parties to come together to develop the nation.
In his speech titled, ‘To serve the people’, Tinubu assured Nigerians especially youths that he would work day and night to improve the country.
The President-elect said “To you the people, especially the youths, I will work day and night. I will work to the utmost of my ability to make Nigeria better.
“For this to be a victory at all, it cannot simply be a victory for one man or even one party. It must become a victory for all Nigerians who are committed to a greater society.”