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Nigeria's VP to Shun Inauguration


Nigeria's president-elect Umaru Yar’Adua and vice president-elect Goodluck Jonathan will be inaugurated Tuesday to take over from President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar. But their election has been marred by charges of fraud and rigging. Citing unnamed threats to disrupt the event, the police have reportedly said they would deploy five thousand of their own to provide security for Tuesday’s inauguration.

For some ordinary Nigerians, the controversy surrounding the election of Umaru Yar’Adua has made Tuesday’s inauguration into just another ordinary holiday. What’s not clear is whether Vice President Atiku Abubakar would be present for the transfer of power.

Garba Shehu is spokesman for Vice President Abubakar. He told VOA the vice president considers Tuesday’s handover as not credible.

“The vice president would not be there because he does not want to dignify that joke with his presence. In fact, no election has taken place in Nigeria. So therefore, there cannot be any credible handover of power because no one has been elected in accordance with the law in this country,” he said.

Shehu said the decision by Vice President Abubakar and former Nigerian head of state Muhammadu Buhari to ask the courts for an annulment of results was not a waste of effort even the inauguration was certain to take place Tuesday.

“The constitution anticipates a fresh election each four years to choose members of the parliament and to elect a new president and the vice president. This process has not been carried out in accordance with the laws of Nigeria. So what the vice president wants now is for the courts to allow Nigerians to exercise their franchise, their right to choose who their leaders wood be for the coming four years,” Shehu said.

He said the mood among ordinary Nigerians toward Tuesday’s inauguration is one of dissatisfaction. Shehu said the dissatisfaction began from the very day the elections results were announced.

“The inspector general of police on that day warned that the victors were not allowed to celebrate, and the losers were not allowed to protest. What kind of election could that be? So that is the mood of the country. It is like if we are mourning, a very sad and unfortunate happening. You will see it for yourself. Tomorrow will just be like any other day in Nigeria because Nigerians are simply feeling cheated. They have been deprived of their right to choose those that will lead them for the next four years,” he said.

Shehu said he was not sure when the courts would decide on the petition by Vice President Abubakar and former Nigerian head of state Muhammadu Buhari for the election of Yar’Adua to be annulled. He said he was hopeful the judges would do the right thing.

“It suffices to say that given the mood of the judiciary at the moment, we consider they too are mindful of the prevailing political situation in the country, and we believe that they will act in a way to ensure that Nigerians don’t loose confident in democracy as a system of government,” Shehu said.

He said Vice President Abubakar was a businessman before entering politics and will continue to do so after he leaves office. But Shehu was hopeful that the courts would annul the election of Umaru Yar’Adua if is to be sustainable democracy in Nigeria.