Exactly 35 days to his inauguration on May 29, the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, will arrive in Nigeria tomorrow after a one-month rest in France.Tinubu left the country for France on Tuesday, March 21 to rest and plan the transition programme ahead of his inauguration on May 29.One of his loyalists informed THISDAY yesterday that the president-elect would arrive in the country on Monday evening, barring any unforeseen circumstances.The source said: “Asiwaju is coming back on Monday. He will arrive Monday evening.”
His Media Office had in a statement in March, explained that he travelled to France to rest and plan his transition programme after a very exhaustive campaign and election season.The president-elect had left the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja.According to the statement, the president-elect decided to take a break after the hectic campaign and election season to rest in Paris and London, preparatory to going to Saudi Arabia for Umrah (Lesser Hajj) and the Ramadan Fasting.
The statement also added that while away, the president-elect would also use the opportunity to plan his transition programme.“He has directed all the senior aides and campaign staff to also go and observe a short rest. He is expected back in the country soon. We enjoin the media to stop publishing rumours and unsubstantiated claims and to always seek clarifications from our office,” his media office reportedly said.On his return to the country, the president-elect is expected to hit the ground running to address certain issues that would ensure effective take-off of his government on inauguration on May 29.
One of such issues is the zoning of National Assembly leadership which has polarised the two chambers of the parliament along regional and religious lines.While the South-west will emerge as the new kingmaker, the current kingmaker, the North-west, is seeking compensation in the new dispensation for delivering the highest votes to the president-elect.
To this end, the incoming lawmakers from the zone have eyes on the Senate President, a development, which is bringing them on a collision with their colleagues from both the South-east, who are crying due to perceived marginalisation, and the South-south that lays the golden egg.Both the South-east and South-south are laying claim to the Senate Presidency to ensure the emergence of a Christian Senate President and balance the same-faith presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The emergence of a Senate President from the North-west would create a Muslim Senate President, which would be unacceptable to the South-east and the South-south, given the fact that both the president-elect and the vice president-elect are Muslims.The position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives is also in contention. Tinubu is expected to rally the leaders of his party and the members-elect of the two chambers of the National Assembly to resolve these issues by zoning the positions of the principal officers of the parliament to balance regional and religious interests.
The president-elect is also expected to use the next 35 days to assembly a competent team that will form his cabinet to ensure smooth takeoff after his inauguration.It took President Muhammadu Buhari roughly six months to form a cabinet after his inauguration on May 29, 2015 and it is expected that Tinubu will not make the same mistake.
Another major challenge facing Tinubu on his return is how to handle the removal of petrol subsidy, which is long overdue, without hurting the organised labour.The labour unions had given stringent conditions for the removal of subsidy.The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which came into effect in 2022, provides for the removal of subsidy but the implementation of this aspect of the legislation was suspended for 18 months, which expires in June.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, had on Friday, stated that a lot of consideration was ongoing to ensure that the subsidy removal is given human face.Tinubu had also vowed to remove subsidy as part of his campaign promises and how he handles it without creating labour crisis is a task he will map out in the coming weeks before his inauguration.
The president-elect will also face the task of ensuring that there is social cohesion by initiating a healing process that will unify Nigerians.Currently, Nigerians are bitterly divided along tribal and religions lines. One of the ways he will start the healing process is by ensuring that there is equity and fairness in the zoning of the principal offices in the National Assembly.Tinubu will also have to clear himself of the grievous allegations made against him at the election petition court by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, among others.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the APC presidential candidate as the winner of the February 25 presidential election, having polled 8,794,726 votes.He defeated his closest rivals, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku, and his counterpart in the Labour Party, Obi, who polled 6,984,520 votes and 6,101,533 votes, respectively.
Tinubu had last week submitted 13 names of eminent Nigerians that would make up the Presidential Inauguration Committee ahead of the May 29 inauguration.But the PDP has knocked Tinubu for not appointing anybody from the South-east to his 13-man transition committee.
The submission of the 13 names was in response to a letter by the Presidential Transition Committee (PTC), headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, asking for nominations into the 13 sub-committees under the Inauguration Committee of the council.
The committee was saddled with the task of planning the week-long inauguration activities that will usher in Tinubu and the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, as president and vice-president of the country, respectively, on May 29. Tinubu had earlier submitted the names of the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, and a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Wale Edun, to the council.