Technically, contrary to the erroneous views being expressed by the army of restive sycophants in the corridors of power, there currently exists vacancy in Aso Rock – the Abujabased strategically located imposing palatial official residence of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The fact that Aso Rock is now visibly vacant and there is urgent need for the vacancy to be filled is the reason the presidential election holds this Saturday with President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as one of the 14 contestants for the juiciest job in the land.
The vacancy in Aso Rock constitutionally remains until the end of the presidential election and the officially recognized electoral umpire – the Professor Attahiru Jega-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announces a winner of what promises to be a tough electoral contest between the two major candidates hopefully by Monday, March 30, 2015.
It is heartwarming that at last, in spite of the raging rumour from the quarters of desperate politicians that the 2015 general elections would be postponed again, the first leg of the two-legged 2015 general elections will hold as scheduled.
Millions of eligible voters, irrespective of political, religious, ethnic or cultural affiliations, will heave a sigh of relief following the successful kick-off of the long-awaited crucial and decisive elections However, Nigerians with discerning minds hope that having postponed the elections for six weeks, INEC and other relevant agencies had successfully addressed those lapses identified to ensure that the elections which had since political campaigns began in November 2014 generated a lot of heat and tension within the political landscape across the country, will be free, fair, transparent and acceptable to right-thinking Nigerians.
It is the responsibility of INEC and other stakeholders to ensure the elections are successful as this is the only way to justify reasons for postponement of the elections.
The last round of general elections in Nigeria took place in 2011 and apart from the staggered elections held in some states afterwards, many Nigerians are determined to participate actively in this year’s elections since according to them, there is the urgent need to effect a change in political leadership in order for Nigeria to regain its lost glory.
In view of the importance of the 2015 elections, the level of political awareness among Nigerians has increased considerably and they have vowed to cast their votes for their preferred candidates to ensure the “right” presidential candidate with uncommon sterling leadership qualities emerges winner.
The election marks a significant turning point in the chequered political history of Nigeria and this is why those charged with the conduct of these allimportant elections must put their selfish interests aside and allow their actions to be guided strictly by national interest. The hitch-free take-off and successful conclusion of the elections will to a large extent, help in not only installing visionary and dynamic leadership that will help in moving the toddling and fumbling 54-yearold country forward from its present pitiable state but the unbroken 16-yearold democratic experience will be deepened. This is why the entire world is focusing on Nigeria. As the “Giant of Africa”, Nigeria carries the inevitable burden of demonstrating exemplary leadership in the conduct of elections. As the most populous black African country and the biggest economy on the African continent, Nigeria cannot afford to shirk its responsibility of conducting credible elections for other African countries to emulate.
Other African countries are anxiously waiting to see if Nigeria will get it right this time around. This is why Nigeria cannot afford to fail in this regard.
It is quite understandable that of all the elections, the presidential election has so far generated a lot of political heat, tension and controversy. It is unfortunate and worrisome that the campaigns ahead of today’s elections have been largely divisive and characterized by hate-speeches, hate-documentaries, mudslinging, character assassination, blackmail and unsubstantiated allegations, especially from the camps of the two major presidential candidates.
As usual with past political campaigns during the past 16 years, such campaigns have been largely pedestrian rather than issues cum ideology-based.
Of the 14 presidential candidates, there is one female – Professor Remi Sonaya who is contesting on the platform of KOWA. This first-ever feat in Nigeria’s political history is significant as it will encourage more Nigerian women to seek election into the highest political position in the land. It is also significant that of the 14 candidates, Jonathan, 57 and Buhari, 72, clearly stand out from the crowd. In terms of experience, Jonathan is the incumbent president while Buhari was once a military Head of State. It will be a neck–to–neck contest between the duo.
Jonathan was elected president in 2011 after defeating Buhari and others. Jonathan should not take Buhari for granted. Unlike in 2011 when Jonathan of PDP defeated Buhari, the outcome of this presidential election will be a big shocker that will shake the foundation of Nigeria’s political landscape.
In essence, Jonathan should not underrate Buhari as Buhari of 2003, 2007 and 2011 is different from Buhari of 2015. Also, Buhari should not take Jonathan for granted. As the sitting president whose power of incumbency is an advantage if reasonably utilized and the federal government administration’s unlimited access to vast resources to actualize Jonathan’s re-election bid, Buhari should not underestimate Jonathan.
Ajayi is a journalist and public affairs analyst. 08033068898 (sms only)