By Uche Amunike
The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, has condemned the swearing-in of President-elect, Bola Tinubu, without hearing the final verdict given by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, on the matter.
Recall that after the results of the February 25th election were announced, the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi and his counterpart, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, challenged the outcome announced by President of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, in court.
Even though the hearing of the case would commence on May 8, 2023, preparations for the inauguration and swearing in of Bola Tinubu has remained top notch.
Cardinal Onaiyekan was a host to Channels Television, on an interview program, Thursday, where he expressed his thoughts on the status of the election process, which he described as ‘anomalous’, stating that he was still waiting for the court to announce the winner of that election to Nigerians.
According to the cleric, it was expedient to review the election process as this would make it easy to have a winner in place. He added that if there was a declared winner, the swearing-in would then easily take place. He showed concern about the electoral system in Nigeria, which, in his opinion, was always contested.
Hear him: ‘There are cases in court that have not been disposed of. That is why we are in an anomalous situation. We have a president-elect whose election is being challenged and the court is handling it.’
‘I’m still waiting for the court to tell me who won the election. It doesn’t make much sense to be swearing in people when they are still in court. I know it has happened with governors, but the outcome has not been the best of all cases.’
He condemned the fact that the court was taking rather long to come to a decision and called for the need to review the election process of the country in order to produce a winner that would be sworn in and whom everyone would rally around.
He further stated: ‘My problem is that the whole system of our election must be properly reviewed so that it would be easier for winners to emerge according to the wishes of the people. It is not right to have a system that is constantly contested. We should find out why is every election being contested.’
In reaction, the APC has condemned the comments of the clergyman as Minister of State for Labor, Festus Keyamo lashed out at him, while describing his comments as an embarrassment to the body of Christ.
Speaking, through his verified Twitter handle, Keyamo tweeted: ‘A statesman who doubles as a Man of God should strive to be fair to all. You didn’t say the same thing when Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari were all sworn in as Presidents when their cases were still before the courts’.
‘You have chosen to single out this President- Elect @officialABAT this time around because the candidate you and your other religious brethren openly supported lost the election and you all feel humiliated and embarrassed.’
He also tweeted: ‘My dear daddy, may I respectfully advise that going forward, you and your brethren may consider stepping back from the deep and murky waters of politics and desist from descending into the arena of political conflicts where your children in your congregations find themselves on different sides of political divides, so it would be unfair to them for you to openly take sides.’
‘The embarrassment to the Body of Christ is getting too much and no politician is worth dragging this dignified body into unnecessary political controversy. Is this too much to ask, daddy?’, he concluded.