THIS is the dawn of a new era. It is a time that every Nigerian should celebrate, whether they supported President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) or President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari and the in-coming ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).Congratulations to all of us. This election has produced a winner, Buhari; and a hero, Jonathan.
Some have called it the best election Nigeria ever had. Even if you have your reservations over the regional gang-ups and surreptitious desertions that produced the eventual winner, or the apparent lopsided performance of the card reader in the North (especially Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kaduna and Bauchi) and South (Anambra, Rivers, Lagos, and so on) as complained by Elder Godsday Orubebe) that is now inconsequential. We have a new President-elect, and his name is General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
Buhari clinched a total of 15,424,921 votes to beat Jonathan, who scored 12,853,162 votes. The APC candidate won in twenty one states and secured the required 25 per cent of votes cast in 26 states, while Jonathan won in 15 states and 25 per cent in 24 states. Jonathan won in all the three former Regions (East, West and North) thus asserting the national spread of the PDP, while Buhari got elected based on overwhelming victory in the North and West.
So, why do we say this was the most successful election in Nigeria’s history? If we bear in mind that Nigeria’s disintegration was predicted to take place after these elections in 2015; if we consider the sabre-rattling that preceded the campaigns, in which the APC and its leaders threatened that dogs and baboon “will soak in blood”, and that they would form a parallel government if the elections were “rigged”; if we also consider that the federal government had rolled out the Nigerian armed forces to crush any troublemaker, then we will not stop congratulating one another for the success of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
If Nigeria were to break, it would have started doing so by now. The state elections are far less capable of threatening the nation.
As I said before, this election produced a winner and a hero. The hero of our democracy today is President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan. This man has carved his place in the history of Nigeria, Africa and the developing world as a great example of statesmanship. Jonathan has made it possible for Nigeria to achieve the noble threshold of conducting a free, fair and credible election in which the wishes of the majority successfully prevailed and resulted in the transfer of power from a ruling party to a victorious opposition party. It has always been held that a Nigerian sitting president could never be defeated. The Lecturer from Otuoke has used himself to disprove that cynical Nigerian conventional wisdom.
If Jonathan had been in the do-or-die, ruffian mold of Olusegun Obasanjo, he would not have appointed Professor Attahiru Jega. He would have frustrated the Electoral Commission through starvation of funds and shackled its independence. But under Jonathan, the Commission, like other democratic institutions, operated freely. This made it possible for Jega to introduce the rigging killers – Permanent Voters Cards (PVC’s) and the Smart Card Readers (SCR’s). Even the US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, was so impressed that he promised to recommend his State of Virginia to come and understudy our magical electoral innovation, since their voter’s cards have no biometric properties.
President Jonathan, throughout his tenure, also drummed into Nigerians that his elections were based on the principles of “one man, one vote; one woman, one vote; one youth, one vote”. His most enduring exhortation to Nigerians is that no politician’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. It was, therefore, not surprising that even when the final result had not been pronounced, he read the handwriting on the wall and called General Buhari to concede defeat and congratulate him. So doing, Jonathan saved Nigeria from avoidable bloodshed and possible disintegration. The tension that enveloped the land quickly dissipated, and the deserted streets of major cities filled again with people going about their normal businesses.
Now, the winner. I want to congratulate President-elect, General Buhari. He is a study in perseverance and abiding faith in the democratic process. Having been defeated three times previously, he has paid his reparation for truncating our democracy in the past. He is now about to carry the burden of Nigeria on his elderly shoulders. All Nigerians stand ready to give him the usual honeymoon of unqualified support to set up his government and started addressing our problems. The burdens are herculean indeed, and it requires Buhari emulating Jonathan’s patriotism to consolidate on our collective victory.
The elections divided Nigeria grievously. Politics and campaigns, with their abrasive appurtenance of monstrosities, are over and governance is about to begin. The change we expect from the President-elect is that he should go out of his way to unite the nation by refusing to see Nigerians as Christians, Muslims, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Ijaw, APC, PDP, Northerner or Southerner. Buhari must employ the best hands in delivering his campaign promises of growing the economy, fighting corruption and guaranteeing the security of all Nigerians. He must banish the fear that the North has come back to rule.
Buhari must not see himself as the leader of 15 million APC supporters but the father of 170 million Nigerians. He must say no to politics of exclusion, marginalisation, and sectional patronage, which characterised his first time as military head of state.
He must remember that Nigerians now have the might and power of their PVC’s and SCR’s. They are also internet savvy. PDP boasted that it would rule for 60 years, but our PVC’s and SCR’s ended their reign after only sixteen years. That is the fate which awaits any leader who promises us change but instead takes us back to the dark past.
I wish GMB a successful tenure.