If ever there were an illustration of futility, it would be the decision of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi to appeal the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal’s judgment at the Supreme Court. The tribunal’s well-reasoned verdict, affirming President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the 2023 elections, should have been the end of the story. Instead, Atiku and Obi have opted to carry on this charade, misleading their followers into believing that they still have a fighting chance.
The five-member tribunal panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, left no room for doubt in their ruling. They meticulously went through the petitions and allegations, dismissing them one by one. Atiku and Obi had failed to provide concrete evidence or specific locations where they claimed election irregularities took place. When the gavel came down, Tsammani resoundingly affirmed the election of President Bola Tinubu, stating that the petitions ‘lack merit’.
And yet, in the face of this unequivocal judgment, both Atiku and Obi, along with their legal teams, persist in their quest for a reversal of fortunes at the Supreme Court. Their lawyers speak loftily of ‘justice not served’ and ‘the struggle continues’. One has to question what this struggle is for, exactly. Is it the struggle to ignore the facts? Is it the struggle to undermine the judiciary? Or is it the struggle to keep their followers in a perpetual state of false hope?
Atiku’s Lead Counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, lamented that they ‘have not received justice’, as if justice is a subjective experience, tailored to individual preferences. Similarly, the Labour Party’s Legal Adviser, Kehinde Edun, expressed disappointment at the tribunal’s decision to dismiss 10 of their 13 witnesses. But what Edun conveniently omits is the tribunal’s valid point: these witness statements should have been filed alongside the petitions. His attempts to obscure this shortcoming behind legal jargon do not change the tribunal’s essential critique of their case.
It is this sort of subterfuge that raises questions about the motivations behind Atiku and Obi’s appeal. Their approach to the tribunal was flawed from the outset: they failed to provide the specific details necessary to substantiate their claims. Now they wish to elevate these inadequacies to the highest court in the land, in an act that can only be described as futile and misleading.
For Atiku and Obi, it’s high time to stop this wasteful exercise and accept the tribunal’s verdict. Their appeal serves no one but themselves, distracting Nigeria from more pressing issues while keeping their followers in a state of suspense. It’s a disservice to democracy, to the judiciary, and most importantly, to the Nigerian people who deserve better than this.
It’s imperative to understand that the law isn’t a tool for perpetuating political battles; it is an institution designed to serve justice. If Atiku and Obi believe that they have been wronged, the onus was on them to present an irrefutable case. They failed to do so. Their planned appeal to the Supreme Court is nothing but an exercise in futility, offering false hope while further muddying the waters of Nigerian politics.
As they march towards the Supreme Court, one can’t help but think that Atiku and Obi are leading a parade of folly. Their endeavour will likely end as it began: with a lack of merit and a verdict that affirms the choice of the Nigerian people. To continue down this path is not only futile but also an irresponsible act of political theatre, unworthy of the serious business of governance.
The Endgame: What Are Atiku and Obi Really Aiming For?
If Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi genuinely care for Nigeria’s future and its democratic institutions, then it would be prudent for them to acknowledge the decision of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal gracefully. Their insistence on pushing forward with an appeal to the Supreme Court isn’t just an affront to the rule of law; it’s an insult to the collective intelligence of the Nigerian electorate. What does it say to their supporters? It sends a detrimental message that it’s acceptable to endlessly contest a clearly decided issue, as long as it keeps their names in the headlines. This diversionary tactic not only misleads their following but also wastes the court’s valuable time and resources—resources that could be better utilised in addressing cases with legitimate grievances.
Let’s pause and consider their motives. By continuing this legal battle, what do they hope to gain? Their claims of electoral fraud and irregularities were not sufficiently substantiated during the tribunal hearings. Is their plan just to cast a lingering cloud of doubt over President Bola Tinubu’s mandate? To keep their political relevance alive by staying in the news cycle? Or is this a Hail Mary, a desperate attempt to hit the political jackpot despite the long odds? Whatever it is, the tactics used by Atiku and Obi appear less about defending democracy and more about promoting their self-interests.
Furthermore, this legal melodrama undermines faith in the electoral system and the judiciary, two pillars crucial to Nigeria’s democracy. When leaders act like rules can be bent or ignored to fit their desires, it sets a dangerous precedent. With each legal hurdle they try to instigate, Atiku and Obi are sowing seeds of doubt and cynicism that will take years, if not decades, to uproot. Is that the legacy they want to leave?
It’s crucial to ponder the repercussions of this saga on Nigeria’s international reputation. As Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, Nigeria should set an example for other African nations in how to handle electoral outcomes maturely and democratically. Instead, this persistent challenge by Atiku and Obi could paint the country as politically unstable, deterring foreign investment and painting a grim picture of governance in the eyes of the international community.
Conclusion: The Mirage of Leadership and the Reality of Systems
While the recent legal drama surrounding the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal may have riveted the country, it is a distraction from the more urgent, foundational issues that Nigeria faces. Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s rise to the presidency, a journey aided by remarkable political craftiness and a knack for exploiting systemic loopholes, may seem like a masterclass in political acumen, but it is also a revealing commentary on the frailties of our governing structures.
It’s easy to castigate Tinubu as a trickster who manipulated the system in his favour, but let’s be clear: the fault is not solely with the player but with the game itself. A political framework that allows room for such maneuvering—of bending and twisting the rules—is inherently flawed. As the saying goes, ‘When a wise man points at the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger’. Focusing our ire solely on the figure of Tinubu would be missing the forest for the trees.
The reason Tinubu—or any other political leader—can manipulate the system to their advantage is that the system itself is rigged with fault lines, ready to be exploited by anyone with the cunning to do so. It is precisely these structural inadequacies that need urgent redress, far more than the supposed misdeeds of one man or one party. Therefore, to genuinely move Nigeria forward, we must look beyond the shiny veneer of charismatic leadership and delve deep into the machinery that enables governance.
The endless cycle of relying on ‘saviours’ to bring about change has proven to be a flawed strategy, consistently failing to deliver long-lasting progress. Instead, a paradigm shift towards structural reform is what Nigeria desperately needs. Whether we consider the stark economic inequalities, the unsettling ethnic and religious divisions, or the perennial issues of corruption and poor governance, the solutions are not going to come from a single leader, no matter how gifted or well-intentioned.
Rather, it is high time for a thoroughgoing reformation of Nigeria’s socio-political structures. We need a comprehensive review of constitutional arrangements, fiscal federalism, and electoral processes. Grassroots governance needs to be strengthened, and civil society empowered, so that the collective good is prioritsed over narrow, parochial interests. Only then can we hope for a Nigeria that is fair, just, and equitable for all its citizens, not just for those who have mastered the art of political gamesmanship.
So, as we move forward, let us not be swayed by the distractions of the moment but be guided by the imperative of deep, systemic change. The future of Nigeria depends not on the whims of transient leaders but on the integrity of enduring systems. That is where our focus should lie.