PRESIDENTIAL POLLS: HOW NIGERIA 'DISAPPOINTED' THE WORLD
Two weeks ago, I suggested ten things Nigerians must keep in mind as they went to the polls last week. From all indications, it seems that most Nigerians heeded that advice or similar ones offered by other writers and opinion leaders. Last week, just as the polls were being cast or being counted, I opined that however the elections went, I was already excited in my spirit that Nigeria would win big time, emerging from the elections better than we entered. I am thankful to God, that my prediction seems to have been proven right.
As I closed in my piece last week, I had said that this election had elicited more international interest than ever before. From the USA, Europe, Asia, Latin America and our own Africa, came scores of admonitions and even veiled threats. INEC had more international observers than staff( permanent & adhoc). For once every international TV station was focused on Nigeria and when you tuned to China's CCTVN, you would think, you were listening to Channels TV, because they carried news about Nigeria every half hour. Every Media House, major and minor had sent news crews to Nigeria. What were they expecting to report about Nigeria? A free, fair,credible and Violence- free elections?, an orderly transfer of power from one President to another ? Zebrudaya Nwogbo alias four thirty would say: 'far- far- far...foul'
Off the coast of Accra Ghana, ships were moored carrying American Marines and emergency workers ready to ferry over to Nigeria to rescue American Citizens still in Nigeria. The Europeans made similar arrangements. The United Nations was on standby and the RedCross had piled up emergency supplies in readiness to fly in relief material to Nigeria. Some American 'seers' had long 'prophesied' that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015. And then a formidable Party called APC was born from a coalition of the long suffering opposition and a chunk of angry dissidents from the establishment Party - PDP. The new amalgam sounded very desperate to snatch power from the ruling party and the ruling party responded with even fiercer counter offensive. The Bush was set on fire!. The rhetorics was aweful sending fear to all directions.
The World remembered what happened in 2011, how hapless Nigerians were murdered and property worth several millions were destroyed by rampaging miscreants who had been primed to reject any result that did not favour their candidate. Of course the escalation of the Terrorist insurgency in the last three years or so to make governance difficult, all added to create an environment of siege and potential cataclysm. Infact, there was even this prediction,that head or tail, Nigeria would erupt into violence and may be civil war. So all the scenarios tended to indicate violence and destruction. But alas, Nigeria disappointed the World. This turned out to be the most peaceful election we have had in recent history. Some have even said it was the most free, fair and credible. Well?
How come that Nigeria 'disappointed' the World ? First is the determination of President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that there is peace in this Nation. No matter what other faults the man may have, he was first and foremost a man of Peace. He fears God. Truly he made unquantifiable sacrifices for the Peace of this Nation, more than any other living National Leader. If he was not a man of peace, he would have pursued the issue of the qualification of General Muhammadu Buhari to an end which could have disrupted the peace of the Nation to his own electoral advantage. A few days to the election, the Nation was on edge regarding the impending court declaration on General Buhari's eligibility. I can imagine the pressure by party hawks which he shook off . Second, Dr Goodluck Jonathan is the greatest Democrat of our time. The freedom he allowed democratic precepts to reign in our Nation was unprecedented . Infact, this was counted as weakness for him. When the mega Party APC was being formed, he refused to oppose it. When his party governors were decamping in droves, he refused to stop them or fight them. Aminu Tambuwal organized a coup against his party to become speaker and Jonathan allowed him to stay till today. In the last five years or so since Jonathan came to power, we have not heard of any political hostage, or murder. No body has been driven out of town or forced into exile. Such examplary Political leadership is rare in Africa.
And to cap it up, Dr Goodluck Jonathan called to congratulate General Buhari , even when the final result had not been released, and even when some had misgivings as to how the elections were conducted in some States. Without prejudice to the rights of his party to raise any issues concerning the conduct of the Elections especially INEC's mid game change of rules, Jonathan did what no National Political leader had ever done in the history of Nigeria. He bettered Dr Kayode Fayemi's record in EKITI who called Fayose to congratulate him and concede defeat after INEC released the results of EKITI gubernatorial election result last year.
Third is the unequivocal determination of Nigerians to see that their votes counted in the elections and their equal desire to see Peace reign in Nigeria. Most Nigerians conducted themselves peacefully during the Presidential elections and did their utmost to obey the electoral rules. Many were unceasing in praying and preaching for peaceful elections. Fourth is the impartial conduct of the security officers. They lived up to the expectations of Nigerians and did their utmost to prevent any deviant or violent Behaviour.
Fifth, is the notable learned democratic Behaviour of General Muhammadu Buhari. He wanted to become Nigeria's democratically elected Presiden. He tried the first time and failed, tried a second time and failed, he tried a third time and failed with disastrous consequences for Ordinary Nigerians. He refused to give up and despite every effort to discourage him from trying again, he endured, changed his tactics, allowed himself to be remodeled and moderated his rhetoric and finally made it. That is a great lesson for all political actors. To believe in a cause and to pursue it determinedly and then make the necessary sacrifices to attain it legitimately.
Nigeria has emerged from these elections better than we entered. There was a change of President and change of Party. A sitting President has lost elections and a ruling party has been dethroned. And blood is not flowing and everybody is going about their business all over Nigeria. A rarity in Africa. It could be that our Democracy has matured at last. Thanks be to God.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR