Tinubu returns to Nigeria after The ICIR report

PRESIDENT-Elect Bola Tinubu has returned to Nigeria almost a month after he left the country.

The former Lagos State governor arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on Monday, April 24, to the waiting hands of government officials, stalwarts of his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC), and other supporters.

Thunderous shouts of ‘Mr President!’, ‘Welcome, your Excellency!’ rented the air at the airport as everyone sought to catch a glimpse of him.

He was conveyed in a convoy of black SUVs amidst heavy security around 4:58 pm along Bill Clinton Drive, along the Airport Base and Nigerian Correctional Service Headquarters, Airport Road.

Tinubu returned to Nigeria two days after questions were raised over his whereabouts in a report published by The ICIR, five weeks to his inauguration.

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The ICIR published the report after some of his party chieftains confided in the organisation that the President-Elect’s ‘prolonged disappearance’ and ‘elusiveness’ had become a source of concern to those who worked for his victory.

Tinubu will be inaugurated as Nigeria’s President on May 29, when the eight-year leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari ends.

Tinubu travelled to Europe in late March after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him the winner of the presidential election conducted on February 25. 

Nothing has since been heard from him, except when he appreciated Nigerians for voting for him, and other statements issued through his social media handles. He also reportedly expanded the Presidential Transitional Council on Thursday, April 20.

Reactions from Tinubu’s media spokesperson, Tunde Rahman, and other aides to the former Lagos State governor appear not to convince those who doubted that all is well with the President-Elect.

While rumours spread that Tinubu jetted out to Europe in late March after the governorship and state houses of assembly election to attend to a medical emergency, Rahman debunked the claims.

But some party stalwarts and other Nigerians remained unconvinced because Tinubu has not been seen since he left Nigeria.

Rahman argued that Tinubu needed rest after touring the 36 states and working hard for his victory at the presidential poll.

He said the President-Elect travelled to France to rest and would proceed to Saudi Arabia during Ramadan for Umrah, the lesser Hajj.

Those who suspected that all is not well with Tinubu had pointed at a picture of Buhari and the former Lagos State governor, purportedly taken when they participated in the lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia during the just-concluded Ramadan.

Sam Omatseye, one of the heads of Tinubu’s media outfits, tweeted the picture.

The picture, when fact-checked, was found to be misleading, raising suspicion over Tinubu’s whereabouts.

The picture was from a news report published by Premium Times on May 11, 2019. It showed President Buhari breaking Ramadan fast with Tinubu at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The image caption on the media report indicated that the photo was shot by Sunday Aghaeze, President Buhari’s Personal Assistant on Photography, on May 10, 2019.

An APC chieftain who was worried over Tinubu’s whereabouts told The ICIR, “A Northern governor reached out to his (Tinubu’s) people so that he could join him to Umrah, but the governor was ignored. That further heightened concerns.”

Tinubu embarked on a similar journey before the elections

Shortly after he won the APC presidential primary in 2022, Tinubu travelled to Europe and was inaccessible to many of his party’s leaders.

He arrived in Nigeria after the election campaigns had started.

Speaking with The ICIR on the telephone on Friday, April 21, Rahman, his media aide, confirmed that Tinubu was not in Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj, Umrah, during the just-concluded Ramadan.

Rahman said the former Lagos State governor would return to the country soon.

“He’s not in Saudi Arabia. He should be returning anytime from now. He’s not in Saudi Arabia because there are a lot of people lurking around the corner to see him there. What he is doing is planning for his inauguration, and he needs to reflect on the things he has to do as he plans for his inauguration.”

Speaking on the rumours that the President-elect has been treating an undisclosed ailment since he jetted out of the country, Rahman said, “All I can tell you is that His Excellency is there. He’s okay. He’s in fine spirits, and he’s strong. He’s not taking a break. At the appropriate time, he will talk.”



    The ICIR reports that Tinubu’s lawyers are representing him in court after the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Abubakar Atiku and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, disagreed with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that Tinubu won the presidential election. Atiku and Obi filed petitions before the Presidential Election Tribunal.

    “How will you boast that you have a President-Elect who is elusive to his people and could not be seen to have been visited or discussing with anyone from around the world? Where does that happen? 

    “If he had done that in the past, he needs to change. Nigeria needs to see him that he’s alive and doing well,” one of the party leaders told The ICIR.

    The APC leader said Nigerians must not have a repeat of how Buhari spent months treating ailments outside the country, without paying any attention to governance.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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