Nigeria’s dreaded general elections have come and gone and for the most part, they were peaceful and uneventful. While there were sundry reports of pockets of retail violence in certain parts of the country, there were no wholesale violent incidents worth bellyaching over. For the first time in her tortured electoral history the blood of innocent Nigerians did not flow in the streets; no heads of electoral officers were chopped off in the North; and no burning and looting occurred in any parts of the country to the disappointment of the global media whose cameras were primed for a feeding frenzy of footages of bloodletting and arson, war chants, world press conferences denouncing the results of the elections and demanding their cancellation; and total chaos and break down of law and order that was not to be.
It is fair to say that more than anything else is, they had converged in Nigeria not necessarily to report on peaceful and orderly election, but on the probable, wished for, disintegration of Nigeria. This time around, Nigeria refused to score an own goal by shooting herself in the foot. She behaved herself to her glory, universal praise and commendation. And for the first time Nigerians at home and abroad are walking with their heads held high and their carriage a little upbeat even with Boko Haram still on rampage and our girls still missing and unaccounted for. Talk about a huge oasis in the middle of a desert.
Now all that is left, at least for those of us in this business, is to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the elections and their results, and indeed the election cycle itself as a whole. That task, with all its partisan flavorings, has only just begun and will continue for a long time as political analysts pour over the datasets, pinpoint the forces at play, map and chart the trend lines of the nation’s political development. There is so much to write about that it certainly cannot be compressed into one single article much as I have tried to in this rather detailed piece of work.
Elections are more than just voting and declaring results. It’s not enough for people to go out and vote in the performance of their civic duty and the results duly announced with winners jubilating and losers wringing their hands in pain and asking themselves what went wrong. The series of activities that precede elections, some open and others hidden, are more important and telling than the elections themselves, for they determine electoral outcomes.
Election victories and loses, as the case may be, are not fortuitous or chance events that no one planned for and executed. There are certain subterranean dynamics at play in each election underlying the voting patterns of the electorates and the results of an election. Electoral outcomes are shaped not just by the mood of the electorate at any given point in time which can be addressed by smart and proactive candidates looking out to nip them in the bud, but by the electoral strategies of the candidates and their parties, which the opposing candidates and their parties must study carefully, understand the counter, just like army generals planning for war. To ignore them is to court electoral disaster as has just been witnessed by the PDP.
As far as Nigeria is concerned, it is beginning to look like ex-army generals rather than civilian career politicians are getting the upper hand in politics as demonstrated by General Olusegun Obasanjo who not only won two terms but also single-handedly secured late Yar’Adua’s victory against General Muhammadu Buhari in 2007. Government houses in the state and National Assembly are filled with ex-army generals as governors and lawmakers who have invaded Nigeria’s political territory upon retirement and made quite a success of it. In addition, in this, General Olusegun Obasanjo is in a special class of his own. He has not only made himself perpetually relevant but has in fact, dominated to this day the politics of present dispensation. In addition, he is not one to be on the losing side. He promptly jumped ship before the doomed PDP ship went down into the depths, refusing to go down with it. In addition, the same thing he did to President Musa Yar’Adua before the man suffered death. In addition, dare I add Chief MKO Abiola too, to the list before he met his premature death? There will be time to analyze the Obasanjo enigma or factor in Nigerian politics.