By Charles Igwe
In a recent interview, held Saturday, 29 July, with AIDOGHIE PAULINUS in Abuja, Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, expressed his concerns over the legitimacy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Nigeria’s President. He emphasized that Tinubu cannot be considered the President until the courts have concluded their proceedings and officially declared the rightful leader.
Onaiyekan, the former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), voiced serious reservations about Tinubu’s legitimacy, stating that he appears to be operating under a cloud of questionable authority.
Regarding the activities of President Tinubu since taking office, the Archbishop asserted that he refrains from forming opinions on Tinubu’s actions until his status as President is legally confirmed. Onaiyekan explained that the Electoral Law and the Nigerian Constitution provide for post-election petition tribunals, and any disputes should be addressed in court before a candidate can be officially recognized as the President.
When asked about the removal of Godwin Emefiele, Abdulrasheed Bawa, and service chiefs from office, Onaiyekan noted that the service chiefs’ tenure changes are routine, but the removal of Emefiele and Bawa came amid allegations against them. He expressed concerns that there hasn’t been significant progress in addressing issues like insecurity, the economy, and corruption, as the country still faces challenges similar to those of the past decade.
On the topic of fuel subsidy removal, Onaiyekan criticized the decision and suggested addressing corruption in the importation process rather than entirely removing the subsidy. He advocated for securing borders to prevent fuel leakage to neighboring countries.
Regarding the students loan bill signed into law by President Tinubu, the Archbishop indicated that the bill might not effectively help needy students due to potential corruption and mismanagement. He expressed worry that corruption tends to hinder the implementation of beneficial policies in Nigeria.
On the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the last general elections, Onaiyekan joined the chorus of dissatisfaction, citing numerous irregularities reported by election observers and monitors. He lamented that the will of the people is often subverted, calling for genuine efforts to ensure free, fair, and credible elections in the country.
When asked about the demand for a government of national unity, Onaiyekan clarified that such a government should emerge from a transparent and fair election process, where political parties agree to share power based on the results. He emphasized the importance of free and fair elections as a prerequisite for any government of national unity.