MANY Nigerians, including stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress (APC), are currently worried over President-Elect Bola Tinubu’s whereabouts as his inauguration draws closer.
Tinubu will be inaugurated as Nigeria’s President on May 29, when the eight-year leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari ends.
The ICIR reports that 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 doubt 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 remain 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 suspect that all is not well with Tinubu have 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’sone 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 shows 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 is worried over Tinubu’s whereabouts told the 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.”
There have been more worries about Tinubu’s whereabouts because no one has heard from or seen him since he left Nigeria, with his inauguration less than 40 days away.
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 leader said Nigerians must not have a repeat of how Buhari spent months treating ailments outside the country and left his government shuddering.
How Tinubu expanded the Presidential Transition Council
Tinubu had two members among the initial team, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha. They are Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu and a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Olawale Edun.
Fourteen members added to the team by Tinubu include a former Director-General of the News Agency of Nigeria and spokesperson of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga. He will serve as Head of Media and Publicity for the Council.
Others are the Executive Director of Nigeria Export-Import Bank, Stella Okotete (Secretariat, Planning and Monitoring); APC National Women Leader, Betta Edu (In charge of the Medical Team); former governorship aspirant in Ekiti, Makinde Araoye (Venue, Parade and Swearing-in); former Director General of National Broadcasting Commission, Danladi Bako (In charge of inauguration lecture) and Zainab Marwa-Abubakar, daughter of the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.). She will anchor the pre-inauguration dinner and gala night.
Also nominated by Tinubu is the acting National Deputy Chairman (North) of the APC, Abubakar Kyari (a former senator), who will coordinate and direct the committee’s finance and budget. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s younger brother, Col. Abdulazeez Yar’Adua, will head security and ceremonial parade for the inauguration.
Samira Saddik will coordinate Children’s Day; Abuh Andrew Abuh is in charge of accommodation, Hajiya Hadiza Mohammed Kabir will take care of transportation and logistics, Donald Wokoma will manage protocol and invitation; Bishop Adegbite heads the church service, and Imam Faud will supervise Jumat Service.
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. Contact him via email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.