Recently, former President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya advised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to run an inclusive government. It is believed that having an inclusive administration will heal the wounds arising from the divisive 2023 elections and pave the way for unity, enduring peace and development in the country. Similarly, former Nigerian leaders such as Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan have enjoined Tinubu to see himself as the president of all Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnic, political, and religious inclinations. President Bola Tinubu should listen to these accomplished leaders and unite all Nigerians.

Kenyatta, who made the remarks in a keynote address at Tinubu’s inaugural lecture, appealed to the president to unite the country. Speaking on “Deepening Democracy for Integration and Development,” Kenyatta identified negative ethnicism, religious intolerance, and economic greed among the issues constituting leadership crisis on the continent. He noted that while elections may divide the people, leadership must bring them together.

He encouraged Tinubu to surround himself with voices that challenge his own and reach out to those who may feel aggrieved to build a stronger nation together.

Kenyatta said: “The contest is now over and the hard work of building a prosperous and unified Nigeria now begins. I encourage you to surround yourself with the voices of those who will counterbalance the hardliners that feel entitled to a piece of your office. You will lose nothing and gain everything by reaching out across the political, ethnic, and religious lines.”

He appealed to Tinubu to allow those who may feel aggrieved by his victory in one way or another, to express their opinions and be involved in his vision for a greater Nigeria.

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Gen. Babangida, who spoke in the same vein, said that Tinubu needed all the skills to be able to unite the country. Babangida further urged the new administration to open up the economy and give Nigerians a direction on how it intends to solve unemployment, inflation, among others. The former military leader called for a reform of the electoral process, including massive voter education. Former President Jonathan alluded to the fact that Nigeria’s electoral management body shares more than 60 per cent of the blame in the nation’s electoral system, adding that if it does its work well, the politicians will have no choice than to follow the rules.

Nigeria is currently more divided along ethnic and religious lines than ever before. The preceding administration did not run an inclusive government. Nigerians saw it as pandering to a particular section of the country in its policies and programmes. The last general election equally exposed our hitherto hidden fault lines and widened the misunderstanding among Nigerians. The new president should learn from that and make necessary amends. It should not continue to be business as usual. He should strive to unite all Nigerians, allay fears of exclusion currently entertained in some quarters and run an inclusive government. Let him see the entire country as his primary constituency and regard all Nigerians as one. Good enough, President Tinubu has acknowledged the magnitude of the tasks ahead and has promised to tackle them. He has also extended a hand of fellowship to his opponents during the election and has pledged to carry everybody along. Nigerians expect him to translate that into reality.

The immediate task before Tinubu is to bring all the ethnic groups together and form a bond of unity among them. Nigeria cannot achieve the much-needed development if it fails to manage its diversities effectively. The president needs to learn from leaders of other countries who have positively managed their diversities. In forming his cabinet, let Tinubu assemble competent hands from every section of the country.

His cabinet should reflect the federal character principle as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). According to Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”

There should be no room for nepotism and favouritism in his administration. The campaigns and elections are over. This is the time for governance. Nigerians yearn for good governance at all tiers of government. This is the time to start fulfilling the campaign promises. There is need to ensure that no part of the country is sidelined in the scheme of things. Treating all Nigerians as equal partners in the Nigerian project will facilitate national healing and reconciliation.