The unofficial guide to attending the presidential inauguration
Brace yourself for Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s impending swearing-in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Monday, 29th May 2023, unless, of course, the Supreme Court decides to throw a spanner in the works. This momentous occasion marks the end of one regime and the beginning of another. While we’re all hoping for a miraculous end to our suffering, let’s not hold our breaths, shall we?
Recently, I had a dream, not the lofty Martin Luther King Jr. kind of dream, mind you. The powers that be invited yours truly to witness the grandeur of the inauguration ceremony. Quite a surprise considering that I didn’t campaign for the winning party.
The VIP invitation, delivered personally by the Governor of Lagos State, Jagaban’s protégé, arrived in style. It was printed on white embossed paper, adorned with the presidential seal and the coat of arms. It felt incredibly luxurious, and naturally, I showered the Governor with my heartfelt gratitude for this extraordinary honour. Since attending such events is a monumental deal, I thought it only fair to share my thoughts as I gear up for this experience. If, by some stroke of luck, you’ve also secured an invitation, congratulations! And if you haven’t been invited, drop me a line, and I’ll provide you with tips on how to dream big enough to attend the next ceremony four years from now.
The inauguration always strikes me as a sombre and serious affair, at least based on TV coverage of past events. And it seems this tradition will remain intact, as the masses have been strictly warned to stay away from the vicinity of Eagle Square. One can only imagine the impeccable security arrangements in place, ensuring that any attempts at misbehaviour are promptly squashed. Luckily, as a VIP guest, I need not worry about such trifles!
The event is slated to commence promptly at 10 am, with no African-time shenanigans. While I can’t recall if previous ceremonies adhered to this, let’s assume this one will. Consequently, I plan to arrive at the venue by 9 am to avoid any unforeseen surprises and secure a comfortable spot in a jiffy. As for transportation, I must ponder the predicament of restricted parking due to security concerns. I contemplated arriving by helicopter, but that would only induce unnecessary tension. Why didn’t they simply arrange transportation from the hotel? Oh, the quandaries of the VIP life!
Now, let’s discuss the burning question: what does one wear to a presidential inauguration? The invitation stipulates national dress, but which one, pray tell? Traditionally, many opt for attire from the tribe of the incoming president, but wouldn’t donning Yoruba garb be a rather uninspired choice? I can already picture the sea of individuals sporting caps emblazoned with that broken chain logo — how utterly unimaginative. Perhaps I should dazzle in my Itsekiri traditional outfit, but I dread the thought of dragging six yards of George material behind me. Or should I go for an all-black kaftan paired with a black cap? Though I do hope I won’t be mistaken for the people’s president. He most certainly won’t be attending, right?
My secret sources have discreetly shared a seating arrangement map, revealing the coveted VVIP section. It offers an unparalleled view of the day’s proceedings. Let me assure you, I won’t settle for anything less than a seat in that hallowed space. I must be as close to the incoming president as humanly possible. I yearn for the opportunity to wink at him just before he takes the oath of office, a subtle gesture to let him know of my esteemed presence. I anticipate a few desperate souls attempting to bribe their way into the VVIP section but mark my words, they shall fail. I’ll make sure to shower the tireless security officials with appreciation for their unwavering dedication. Those brave souls will be on their feet throughout the day and every ounce of encouragement counts. I must savour the entire “VVIP Experience”; otherwise, what’s the point of attending?
Another pivotal reason for securing a seat in the VVIP section is to be the first person to take official selfies with the new president. Furthermore, I mustn’t miss the chance to snap selfies with other important dignitaries who will be in attendance. I can already envision the desperate contortions and frenzied scrambles as people struggle to achieve the perfect angle for their selfies. Not for me, though! I’ve dug out my trusty old selfie stick, which shall work its magic. Of course, I’ll have to pass it off as a harmless walking stick; otherwise, security might mistake it for a weapon and promptly escort me out of Eagle Square.
Throughout the day, I shall be on high alert, keenly observing the attendees besides the invited international dignitaries. I have a sneaking suspicion that some politicians will attempt to blend inconspicuously into the crowd. The majority, however, will be milling about, fully aware that the hunger games have already commenced, and they must remain visible: their political future depends on this. I wonder if I’ll be seated next to any powerbrokers. Perhaps I should discover the whereabouts of Jagaban’s son or seek out the bestie of the incoming first lady, considering Mrs Tinubu will undoubtedly be preoccupied. Oh, and let’s not forget our beloved celebrities and influencers. Many of them campaigned tirelessly for Jagaban, so they might make an appearance. Although truth be told, they’re only interested in seeking out opportunities, so meeting any of them would be utterly pointless.
If there’s one aspect of the inauguration I eagerly anticipate, it’s the president’s inaugural speech. Who can forget President Buhari’s immortal words in 2015: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”? Back then, we foolishly believed it would set the tone for his administration, only to see the honeymoon phase come to a screeching halt. So, what promises and commitments will Jagaban make? Will the fuel subsidy truly end? Shall we witness the miracle of one naira equaling one dollar in a mere six months? And how many times will he mention “change,” “transformation,” or “unity”? Perhaps he’ll dazzle us with a fresh array of catchphrases, just as he did on the campaign trail.
I reckon the ceremony shall last for a maximum of two hours. While I highly doubt they’ll serve small chops during the proceedings, should I expect cassava and corn nibbles? Maybe I could sneak in some biscuits or groundnuts, just in case nothing is served. Yes, I know the inauguration luncheon is at 1.30 pm, but as a forward-thinking individual who arrived early, I must ensure my survival until then. I sincerely hope hunger doesn’t ravage my being before the luncheon, or else I’ll be forced to dramatically faint and be carried straight to the State House Banquet Hall ahead of everyone else!
Oh, and let’s not forget the thrilling prospect of inauguration souvenirs! Here’s hoping they don’t miss the opportunity to lavish us with gifts, particularly since Tinubu hails from the Yoruba clan, renowned for their festive nature. Will they distribute Jagaban-branded salt or Balablu lace? Perhaps we’ll receive custom-designed smartphones or bedazzled watches. I shall remember to bring a foldable bag, for I simply cannot be burdened with carrying all those treasures in my arms.
As I look forward to a day filled with excitement and revelry at the inauguration, fear not, my people, I shall take it upon myself to have an ample share of fun on behalf of all of us. I sincerely pray that Nigeria begins its journey towards a brighter future post-May 29. We’ve endured enough hardships and deserve a reason to smile. Will Jagaban be the president to bring about this transformation? Or should we brace ourselves for yet another round of waiting? It’s high time things started falling into place! These are my expectations, and this is the way I see things today.