Nigerian Cardinal Urges President to Serve Indiscriminately after Court Upholds Win

John Cardinal Onaiyekan. Credit: COFP Foundation

John Cardinal Onaiyekan has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to “now face his work” and serve all without bias after the Supreme Court affirmed his victory following the disputed February 25 presidential elections.

Despite court cases,  President  Tinubu was sworn in as Nigeria’s head of State on May 29. His victory was upheld on September 6 in line with the country’s constitution compelling the opposition to appeal the decision.

In his reflection published Thursday, November 2,  Cardinal Onaiyekan has urged Nigerians to support the presidency, noting that President Tinubu is now the country’s leader and needs to rule the nation “well, with peace, freedom, security, and prosperity.”

“Bola Ahmed Tinubu is our President for the next four years. This means that he now has to face his work – to rule the nation and rule it well, with peace, freedom, security, and prosperity. May God guide and guard him in this onerous task,” the Nigerian Cardinal says.

“He must serve the people, all the people, without discrimination, partiality or bias,” adds the Archbishop Emeritus of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese.


Cardinal Onaiyekan called upon Nigerians to rally behind the president, saying,  “As good citizens, we should support his good efforts. But for the same reason of responsible citizenship, we should not hesitate to hold him accountable for any failure.”

Acknowledging the Court’s verdict, the Cardinal who had considered President Tinubu’s presidency as interim noted that “sovereignty still remains with the people, with their fundamental human and civil rights intact.”

On the other hand, Cardinal Onaiyekan has urged the President to recognize the sovereignty of the people, adding that Nigerians “have not become the property of Mr. President.”

Former presidential candidates Peter Obi of the Labour Party and People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s Abubakar Atiku went to court in March, seeking to challenge Tinubu’s win. 

In their separate petitions, Obi and Atiku claimed that they won the polls and asked the court to declare that Tinubu did not secure the majority votes.

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According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),  Tinubu garnered 8.8 million votes against 6.9 million that were garnered by Atiku and Obi’s 6.1 million votes.

In a ruling that was issued on Thursday, October 26, the nation's Supreme Court, where the opposition had appealed following the presidential tribunal's validation of President Tinubu's victory, rejected the opposition's claims that the election was marred with irregularities and that Tinubu was ineligible to run for or hold the presidency.

In his reflection, Cardinal Onaiyekan said that despite the Supreme Court’s final pronouncement, “many people have openly disagreed” with it.

“It seems that the substantive issue of whether the Presidential election was well done or not still remains in serious dispute,” he said, and added, “But God knows if there was any foul play or not. His judgment stands over and above all human tribunals, which, being human, are never infallible.”

As Christians, the Nigerian Cardinal continues, “We firmly believe that all power belongs to God. Human rulers hold power that belongs to God. No matter how they acquire it, whether by accident of birth, as in a hereditary monarchy, or the barrel of the gun, as in a successful military coup, or by-election, whether rigged or not rigged and however they use power, they will give a full account of every action.”


Cardinal Onaiyekan urged Nigerians to continue doing their best to move the West African nation forward.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.