MANY BLESSINGS FROM THE 2015 ELECTIONS
However these elections go, Nigeria is a winner. Big time. I am prepared to bet with my entire pension savings that Nigeria will come out of these elections much much better than it started. In my reckoning, if this Country needed a tonic to 'explode' for good, it got plenty and I am thoroughly excited in my spirit.
First is the sharp rise in Citizen awareness. For a very long time, we seemed to have docile Citizens who acted as onlookers or disinterested observers of the affairs of our Nation. At best, we whimpered and complained in our closets and resigned to fate. But the 2015 elections seem to have changed all that. In these elections, we heard more of the voices of the citizens across several media, perhaps more than those of the Politicians. It was amazing reading the chats and commentaries of citizens on the social media and on the print and electronic media. So many bloggers came alive and many columnists were born. Though a lot of misinformation and propaganda were traded on the internet, I am all the same impressed with the unprecedented flow of citizen contribution to the debates about Nigeria's future. In my Book, NIGERIA: NEED FOR THE EVOLUTION OF A NEW NATION, I have a chapter with the topic: 'The Citizenship that deserves the Leadership'. My point in that chapter is that it is the Citizens that determine the effectiveness of their leadership. The oft repeated adage that a people deserve the Leadership they have is refocused on the critical tenet that Leadership can not improve, until the People improve. I can feel that the People desire to rise up to their responsibilities and thus there is ample hope that the Leaders will take theirs seriously as well.
Second, never in the history of our Nation, have we seen our Leaders( Present and aspiring) being held accountable for their past-good and bad. It was really exciting, to see our political leaders and aspirants sweat profusely as they tried to justify or explain off their past statements and Behaviour. The Nigerian people were unrelenting in digging out the past statements, misdeeds and contradictions of the political aspirants and candidates. It was very interesting some times to see the hunter being hunted fiercely. In most cases our political leaders did not,as in the past, ignore accusations or scoff at the people, but humbly went to great pains to explain issues and extricate themselves. Talk of People Power and accountability. In my view, never again will politicians take the People for granted or speak from both sides of their mouths, hoping that the people would forget. Speeches made thirty years ago were exhumed and used to judge the contestants .
Third, our Leaders have been challenged to know that what the People need is action, not mere talks and endless planning. Within the last three months, the number of projects that were commissioned all over the Country was homongous. All the matters that had been hidden in the Pipelines were brought to the fore with alacrity. It was unbelievable to see Governments walk with such speed . Perhaps this is a wake up call for the new leaders( returning or resuming) taking positions in the polity, that Nigerians have become impatient with "we are planning to do this", "we are looking into that". They want prompt actions and conclusive follow up on matters. Our leaders must learn to keep tabs on issues and not let them drop and be forgotten. May be they will need to establish a better recall system that will help them see matters to their end.
Fourth is that our Political leaders have seen that hard work, does not kill. It is indolence and hiding behind the desk that kills. Many of these political candidates worked many hours through the day, pouring through much literature and attending many rallies and town and village meetings. In deed many criss-crossed their constituencies several times in the last couple of weeks and are still alive. What is more, many were able to see the real challenges of their peoples. To hide in the office, hedged in some times by sycophant and sometimes self-serving aides has proven not to be the best way to govern. After running away from their constituents, for several reasons including security report,many political leaders must have been pleasantly surprised that some of those reports were not true and that in many cases, the report they were served by the protocol or the bureaucracy were far from the reality on the ground. So I am glad that we shall see more our political leaders in flesh and blood. Perhaps, they will henceforth avail themselves of several opportunities offered them to interact with the people, hear them directly and offer responses directly.
Fifthly is that I get a feeling that this Country is actually more united than many make us feel. I am persuaded that many truly believe in the unity of this country no matter what false impressions they create. Traveling round the Country during this period , I was impressed that most Nigerians took the elections quite seriously and were campaigning and rooting for their preferred candidates. Unlike in the past, many people joined in the campaign without any inducement whatsoever. They either believed in Transformation and Continuity or in 'Chanji'. The contest was very keen at all levels and it reflected to me that Nigerians love this Nation. Sixth, even the issue of religion, did not in my view cause much harm. The way the Parties were structured and the choice of candidates showed a sensitivity to our multi religious polity. I was enthused really to see Christians forcefully defending and supporting Buhari and to note that some of President Goodluck Jonathan's ardent supporters were Muslims. So it is becoming increasingly clear that we can become better at managing our religious differences, especially when you discount the deviant Behaviour of groups like Boko haram.
Seventh and lastly, Nigeria has truly become a major global player of very great strategic importance. The interest shown by the international community in the 2015 elections is unprecedented . World leaders were falling over each other to send goodwill messages to Nigeria, some even reminding us that" To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done". My hope is that we can build on this to reassert our Nation in its proper position after these elections. That's one very important reason, these elections must be free, fair, credible and violence-free. So help us God.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR