Emmanuel Odunfa shares his thoughts on Nigeria’s past presidential elections in Guest Crown Note #3. Guest Crown Note #3 thoroughly evaluates the electoral process in a flawless manner. Emmanuel’s penmanship skill is the champion of this piece, as it takes us from one thought pattern to the next without a hitch. Having said that, you might need a dictionary to fully assimilate this write up. Read and learn, read and marvel.
ANALYSIS OF 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN NIGERIA
By Emmanuel Odunfa
Nigeria’s March 28th, 2015 presidential election was one of the most bitterly fought in the annals of the country’s electoral history. The election was conducted after a controversial six-week postponement, brought up based the insistence of security agencies on the grounds that they needed more time to adequately tackle the battle against insurgency in the North East.
This election might also have been the most divisive election yet; drawing Nigerians into a devious web of mudslinging as well as ethnic and religious favoritism. Eventually the election turned out to be largely a referendum on key national issues pertaining to the state of the country’s economy and security. This historic election was fought and won by everyday Nigerians determined to assert their positions as the real employers of those in power and the recipients of the benefits of that power.
The lesson of who truly wields power and whose interest should really matter in a democracy has definitely been affirmed. Nigeria’s President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, definitely has his job cut out for him. He will need to work hard swiftly to address the deep divisions in the country while simultaneously addressing the economic crisis and security challenges facing the country. This is not the time to revel in triumphalism or adopt the winner-takes-all approach to governance that has been the graveyard of relationships across Nigeria’s multifarious political, social and economic constituencies.
The election has been a true revelation of how best to exercise the franchise by Nigerians.The utilization of the biometric capabilities of permanent voter’s cards and card-readers make the polls Nigeria’s first technologically compliant elections, with a greater success, despite initial hitches and distraction. The ferocity with which the enemies of free and fair elections fought the utilization of the new technology was a real revelation about the determination of some politicians to continue to steal the people’s mandate. The subsequent perfection of the biometric voting system in Nigeria would clearly improve the integrity of elections in the country.
The election was historic because for the first time in the country’s history, an incumbent president was defeated in the polls. It is a huge signal bursting the presumed invincibility of our leaders. Now that Nigerians have demonstrated that they can remove presidents through electoral process, the accountability of leaders to the people is placed on the agenda. Poor governance can henceforth be sanctioned through the ballot. This simple civic message on the power of the electorate could be a decisive turning point in consolidating our democracy. The value of coming out “en masse” to vote, but also staying back in the polling centers to protect the votes and ensure that they count is becoming clearer. These are significant indices of the progression of our democracy. It is also important to note that another historic element in these elections is the emergence of a united opposition platform. Previous attempts to form a united opposition party have always floundered. This time around, the emergence of a virile political opposition in the form of the All Progressive Congress(APC) made it possible to challenge and defeat the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) after 16 years of virtual one-party rule at the federal level. The PDP got so arrogant as to announce that its rule would last at least 60 years. The lesson here for the APC is that its longevity would depend on its capacity to promote good and democratic governance in Nigeria.
Despite the hitches and distractions in the election, the main heroes of these elections are the Nigerian people who showed commitment and discipline by coming out to vote and staying on in their polling units sometimes into the second day as the process dragged. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan also exhibited, a gesture signaling restraint to his followers and indicating the majority wish of Nigerians as greater than individual desire or ambition. By so doing, President Jonathan leaves Aso Rock on the high note and would enter Nigerian history as the first President to accept defeat. Also, another important hero to note is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega. They have been heroic in the conduct of the 2015 election so far. They were able to deploy technology to achieve credible, free and remarkably fair elections, while maintaining calm in the turbulence of a sensitive electoral process.
For Nigerians, the 2015 elections has restored our bragging rights. We the people are the employers of those holding power in trust for us and we can dispense with or refuse to renew their contract when they cease to act on our behalf and for our benefit and progress. This has been the most important lesson of the elections.GOD BLESS NIGERIA.
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