APC supporters protest in Abuja to demand congratulatory messages for President-elect Tinubu
“We have to defend the mandate freely given to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu because it is the right thing to do,” a supporter said.
Supporters of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress have called for a demonstration in Abuja on Monday.
Billed to defend the mandate of the party’s leader and president-elect, Bola Tinubu, the protesters said the failure or refusal to congratulate a new Nigerian leader could continue to fuel doubts over his mandate.
Suleiman Raji, one of the organisers who said he came in from Ilorin to attend the protest, said it was to condemn those who have been silent because their action or inaction could put Mr Tinubu’s mandate in jeopardy.
“They are refusing to congratulate him and that is why we keep seeing people coming with all manner of attacks on the president-elect,” Mr Raji said on Monday morning. “It is very wrong because he was elected by Nigerians in a free and fair campaign.”
John Onaiyekan, a frontline Christian leader in Nigeria, President Joe Biden of the United States and several other religious and political leaders in Nigeria and beyond appeared to have withheld congratulatory messages to Mr Tinubu.
Mr Tinubu was declared winner of Nigeria’s February 25, 2023, presidential election in a race that pitted him against three formidable challengers. Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party came second, while Peter Obi of the Labour Party came third. Both politicians are now challenging Mr Tinubu’s emergence as president-elect, alleging Mr Tinubu’s ineligibility and irregularities in the conduct of the exercise.
While Mr Onaiyekan has publicly disclosed his reasons for withholding any messages to Mr Tinubu, Mr Biden’s office has yet to state any grounds for its decision. Although the U.S. State Department congratulated Mr Tinubu, the president-elect’s supporters said a message from the White House would remove any doubts about the U.S. leader’s acceptance of the new Nigerian leader. In 2015, President Barack Obama congratulated Muhammadu Buhari on his election in that year’s election.
“We have to defend the mandate freely given to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu because it is the right thing to do,” another protester Sherifat Yusuf said. “We cannot sit down and allow them to rob us of a mandate that was freely given to Asiwaju.”
The protesters said they would make their demands regularly until Mr Tinubu is sworn in on May 29.
“Their silence is very loud at this sensitive period because people out there are thinking that something bad may happen to this new government,” Ms Yusuf said while on her way to the Unity Fountain venue of the rally. “We have to show support to Asiwaju until he is successfully sworn in as president to take our country to the next level.”