Presidential polls: A spirit that has refused to rest

Tinubu, Atiku, Kwankwaso and Obi

Richard Elesho

More than 40 days after the conduct of the 2023 Presidential Election, its ghost has refused to rest in peace. Apart from the series of petitions being filed against its outcome, the poll’s odoriferous remains, foul the air like a poorly buried corpse. The putrid air has no respect for space and boundaries.

Since the dying days of February when the results of the poll started trending, many groups have taken to the streets and airwaves in condemnation or commendation. There have even been talks of the military takeover or Interim National Government, at high places. And barring last-minute changes the protests threaten to resonate in foreign lands in the coming days.

Not surprisingly the audible post-election voices have been those of supporters of the main candidates. Obidients for Peter Obi’s Labour Party, LP; Atikulate for Atiku Abubakar ‘s People’s Democratic Party, PDP; Batified for Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress, APC; and Kwakwanso’s for Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso’s New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP.

Tinubu won the election by a wide margin according to results declared by the umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. His declaration has generated hot reactions.

On Friday, 31 March, the reactions entered a more scary dimension, in a completely unexpected quarter. That day, an Abuja to Lagos flight on Ibom Air suffered one hour delay, due to political agitations by one of the passengers. The aircraft was set for take-off when the drama started, according to a video.

The religious among those on board would have committed to the hour-long trip to God. Then suddenly one Mr Obiajulu Uja, from Oji-River Local Government Area, Enugu State, stood up to address fellow travellers, like a vendor of assorted items in a Lagos Molue bus.

He reportedly introduced himself as an Obedient. Then, he marvelled at why his audience was seated comfortably on a flight, while preparations for the inauguration of Tinubu as President come May 29 were in top gear.

He warned that the inauguration must be halted and more or less called people to action. The scene created panic and the Airline made resisted attempts to disembark. Group Manager, Marketing and Communication, Aniekan Essienette in a statement gave details.

She said, “We wish to inform the public about an incident on our 6 pm flight from Abuja to Lagos on Friday, 31 March 2023.

“A passenger stood up and began addressing other passengers in a manner considered inappropriate and unruly, as he was making other passengers nervous.

“Our crew deemed his continuous unruly behaviour unsafe and called on airport security to help with the situation. Upon his refusal to stop or disembark peacefully, the security operatives were left with no choice but to forcefully disembark the passenger as a last option.

“We are aware that several videos and reports of this incident are circulating on social media and wish to provide the right perspective.

“Ibom Air wishes to assure our passengers that we maintain very high safety and service standards and will never compromise the safety and security of our passengers.

“We apologize to the affected passengers for the time it took to disembark this passenger, which caused an otherwise on-time departure to be delayed by an hour.”

The News reports that the airport security handed over the suspect to the police. He has remained in detention and is expected to be charged on Monday.

His lawyer, Ejike Ugwu, however, said the man is mentally unstable, calling for his release to enable him to get treatment.

“The man worked with Zenith Bank until he developed some health issues. Some days ago, Riz Continental Hotel, Abuja, chased him away from the hotel because of his mental instability,” the lawyer added.

He further stated that Uja bought three tickets on Friday for Lagos State, noting that on getting to the airport, he (Uja) had issues with almost all the airlines before he eventually boarded Ibom Air.

Ugwu said when he asked him what happened, “he told us that he wanted to market his products and that he was just trying to get the attention of the passengers when he raised the issue of Asiwaju will not be sworn in.”
He will explain that in the courts.

Balance of protests

Not a few groups have staged demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on the result as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC. Obidients, Atikulate and Kwakwansiya members have rejected Tinubu’s victory in protests across the country. Supporters of the President-elect have been responding in equal measure.

The protests are going beyond the shores of Nigeria. For instance, the United States has given approvals for anti and pro-Tinubu protests. Obidients, as Obi’s supporters are called, are drumming up international rejection of the declaration of Tinubu. The group will demonstrate on Monday, 3 April at the iconic Lafayette Park opposite the US seat of power, the White House.

The following day, Tuesday, 4 April, will be the turn of Tinubu’s supporters at the same venue. A notice of approval by the United States Department of the Interior NATIONAL PARK SERVICE tagged “Permit: NCA-NAMA-EVNT23-0889” showed that the approval to the pro-Tinubu group was granted Friday, March 31, 2023.

The document indicates that the protest is being organized by the APC USA, with one Adeleke Lamoriyv as the Person in Charge, and will be attended by 100 persons.

There may be more drama ahead, as we approach the terminal date of President Muhammad Buhari’s administration.