There have been agitations on the swearing in of the President-elect on May 29, 2023 vis-a-vis the plot for installation of Interim Government, Spokesman for All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ondo State, Steve Otaloro, takes on the agitators and plotters in this interview with NigeriaCheck Newspaper.
Q. DSS has confirmed some individuals were plotting Interim Government rather than installing the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. How would you react to this?
At first, it was a rumour that some people were planning to truncate the smooth transition from President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to the next government on May 29, 2023, if a certain candidate emerged winner of the presidential election rather than the candidate anointed by this group of people. Nobody believed this before the election. But the rumour became more evident when Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) began to announce the results.
The actions of supporters of some of the other presidential candidates when it became obvious that their candidates would not be able to win the election sent another signal that the rumour of Interim Government may be true after all.
There were calls from even unexpected quarters, including an ex-president of the nation and some supposedly statesmen that the election should be annulled, claiming that there were electoral malpractices.
Unfortunately, most of these people calling for the annulment of the election are just being partisan but they camouflage as statesmen because, at one point or another, they had declared their support for one candidate or another before the election. It became clear to Nigerians that these personalities were only crying wolf where there’s none, all on grounds that their choice candidates had lost out in the election.
It is also imperative to mention that the presidency reacted timely and in good faith to douse the tension by condemning such agitation and warning anyone who was trying to throw the nation into chaos.
The DSS has done the nation a good job by revealing that some fifth columnists were plotting to truncate the democratic dispensation, definitely because of their personal and selfish ambitions.
Investigating the seditious moves was a welcome development, but the secret service must also do the profiling of this crop of people and apprehend them for prosecution.
The ploy is felonious and capable of disintegrating the federation and throwing it into another civil war or worse still a religious cleansing.
DSS should complete the job by ensuring the suspects are arraigned for felony.
Saying or plotting that a constitutional President-elect should not be sworn in as contained in the nation’s constitution is a gross offence punishable under the constitution of this country.
Q. Some of those calling for suspension or postponement of the swearing in of the President-elect think that it might be impossible to remove him from office if found guilty in the Election Petitions Tribunal.
That’s not true. We have witnessed so many governors being removed from office after their elections were declared inappropriate by the Election Petitions Tribunals. There is separation of power among the three arms of government in this federation and none can usurp the power of the other.
If anyone is not satisfied with the outcome or conduct of an election he participated in, he can seek redress in a court of law. That’s why Election Petitions Tribunals are constituted and saddled with the sole responsibility of handling the election petitions within a specific time lag.
Why should anyone who claimed to present himself to serve the people be desperate and in a hurry more than the provisions of the law of the land?
If truly you want to serve the people, you have to respect the Constitution. The people have spoken through the ballot and if indeed you doubt the authenticity of the results of the election, present your proof before the court to prove your claim.
It is not enough to just say there was mass rigging in the election, you have to prove it.
Go through the court rather than attempting to come in through the back door. Calling for Interim Government is tantamount to a coup d’etat and everyone involved should be tried. The president-elect has also reiterated his clear vision of what he wants to achieve as president, so also the call for the government of national unity is not an option.
Q. The President-elect has offered all other candidates to join him in post-election healing, but this has been turned down by some of them. How would you react to this?
What the President-elect has done is a welcome development and other contestants in the election should exhibit sportsmanship. His offer doesn’t mean they shouldn’t continue to pursue their cases at the Election Petitions Tribunal. It is simply to deescalate the probable tension in the polity
Q. How did you feel when the collation of the election results appeared dragging and some parties’ agents were aggressively querying INEC for not uploading results on its server?
I would be economical with my words if I say I felt anything short of fear. I was indeed scared because it appeared some people were about to scuttle the electoral process. The 1993 scenario flashed through my mind and it dawned on me that it was 30 years ago the presidential election won by the late Chief M.K.O Abiola was annulled based on a frivolous court verdict granted a cabal that didn’t want the man to be president of the nation.
There are some striking semblance in the qualities of Abiola and Tinubu. Besides the fact that they are both of Yoruba extraction, they are rich, intelligent, smart, brave, and highly connected across the globe. They are both perceived to be uncontrollable by the mafia that determines who becomes what in the federation. They believed that if they are given power with financial strength they already possessed, it would spell doom to those who siphon the nation’s treasury with impunity.
Q. What do you have to say about protests to INEC offices and embassies over a disagreement with the outcomes of elections?
These are sponsored protests, they are not spontaneous. Nigerian electorate have moved on and expect the president-elect to be inaugurated.
The politicians sponsoring these pockets of protest know that no amount of protestations will change the mandate of the people given to Asiwaju’s Bola Tinubu. I will urge Nigerians to resist any attempt to be provoked because their overarching game plan is to create a crisis-ridden atmosphere so that our democracy can be truncated. They know that their court case is woolly at best. And very soon they will run out of steam when the president-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is sworn in next month on May 29, 2023.
One should wonder why the protest at the INEC offices for? Is INEC likely to upturn an election they have already declared? They know it is the Election Petitions Tribunal that can make such a pronouncement if necessary and not INEC. They only want to give a wrong impression to the rest of the world that the presidential election conducted by INEC that didn’t go their way is fraudulent even when they celebrated some of the Senatorial and House of Representatives seats won by their party’s candidates in an election conducted concomitantly with the presidential election.
These protesters even went as far as going to a foreign embassy to protest as if we were still under British rule. The kind of colonial mentality they exhibited is appalling, to say the least. We should therefore brace up for more of this senseless and idiotic vituperation as the inauguration of President-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu draws closer.
Q. Do you think the president-elect will make a difference?
Asiwaju will set a new agenda of upward trajectory for our dear country. He will imprint his name in the sand of time. The people who are brainwashed to hate him and calling him all sorts of names will regret doing so after seeing his performances within the shortest possible times in office. Most of these agitators did not even take a time out to read his manifesto and see what is coming.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will give our nation a place of pride in the commity of nations and make every Nigerian home and abroad to be more proud of their country.
I will, however, urge Nigerians to renew their hope in the president they elected, while the president-elect and his team concentrate on an inauguration that will usher in a new dawn of unprecedented accomplishments across the country from May 29, 2023.