Like any other well-meaning Nigerian, I am overwhelmed by the outcome of the just concluded presidential election. Several issues of national interest crisscrossed my mind to inform this piece, but first, may we dedicate the peaceful conduct of the presidential election and the rebirth of the country’s democracy to Almighty Allah. Before the election commenced, global attention was on us and keen to use the outcome of the election to measure our democratic maturity.
I am very sure Nigeria has not disappointed the whole world with the outcome of its presidential election. As a matter of fact, the nation has joined the rank of nations that conduct peaceful, credible and acceptable elections. Nigeria sits high up there among democratic nations as President Goodluck Jonathan did not even wait for official announcement from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before he conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari. This singular action by Dr. Jonathan confirmed his image as a peaceful and honourable man. The President will go down as the first and best among the rest when it comes to roll call of real democrats in Africa.
The United Nations and other foreign bodies have also doffed their hat for Nigeria and the President for the smooth conduct of the election. General Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress, have taken the day but here is an argument that the real winner of the election is Nigeria’s democracy. By and large, the heroes are the dogged and resilient Nigerians who remained patient and civil despite all the uncertainties surrounding the polls. My special encomium goes to President Jonathan for leading by example and displaying the change in political system being practiced in this country.
That famous phone call to congratulate the president-elect was a monumental feat, which only President Jonathan has attained in the history of this nation. The statement released by the President went a long way in curbing any form of negative post-election reactions from aggrieved parties. This is a sheer display of political sportsmanship and an enviable attribute of a statesman. Nigerians will forever appreciate the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), and other security chiefs for displaying professionalism and timely warning and advice that have brought about peaceful conduct of the election so far. Though, their initial advice for INEC to postpone the elections by six weeks was cynically criticised, the postponement ultimately turned out to be the best decision for the nation. The postponement gave avenue for troops to incapacitate terrorists to the extent that peaceful elections were held even in the North Eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
Thus, we have seen outcome of elections in those areas. Ultimately, the elections were a true reflection of the people’s choice as no section or region of the nation was inappropriately disenfranchised. Talking of peoples’ vote counting, we won’t be celebrating this historic period of our nation without our amiable, calm, ever reliable and credible electoral umpire, Prof. Attahiru Jega. What more can you say about this wonderful personality? Immediately after he was appointed INEC Chairman in 2010, I knew that President Jonathan was bent on keeping his words with regards to conducting credible elections and replenishing the electoral system.
The calm professor has redefined the electoral system in all ramifications. From the printing of Permanent Voter Cards, which can serve citizens for a long time, the instigation of the Smart Card Reader was a masterstroke by Jega, which ensured manipulation was brought to the barest minimum. There is also the need to say the way Jega handled the tantrums displayed by former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe (good to know Orubebe later apologized for his infamous action), was simply epic. His stability and tranquillity was top notch and something everybody aspiring to leadership should emulate.
Thank you so much. Your name will be written in gold. I am also proud to announce that I met Jega as Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano when I was admitted as a student. I also want to congratulate General Muhammadu Buhari for his historic victory in the election. He is the definition of determination, resilience and doggedness. There is no gainsaying that General Buhari emerged president after four tumultuous and torturous attempts.
The General is worthy of emulation. There is every reason to look forward to Buhari’s time in the Presidency with high hopes and expectation after his personal self-efficacy and ability to remain strong against all odds. My simple advice to the Peoples General is: please sir, don’t disappoint the over 15 million voters who see you as messiah and voted you into power. Finally, I surely won’t end this write-up without lauding the ever-present Nigerian citizens who defied all ethnic and religious affiliations to come together and vote for the candidate whom they feel can bring the change they desire. Special praise goes to the People of Bauchi State who defied the 24 hours curfew to see that they protect their votes to the letter. This has gone a long way in showing the power of the people in deciding who will lead them for the next four years. This is the dawn of a new era in Nigerian political system. The governing party should not take the electorate for granted and this will make every administration stand on its heels to deliver on their promises to the people