Issues that shaped presidential and NASS polls

History was made March 28, as Nigeria and Nigerians jointly emerged victorious from free, fair and credible Presidential and National Assembly elections. In the build up to the elec­tions, so much regional sentiments and ethnic tendencies pervaded the environment as evident in social media and campaign programmes of contestants. Utterances of politi­cians and their teeming supporters had created palpable fear and ten­sion in the land leaving many peo­ple with no option than to leave in droves for their states of origin.

Despite the fact that there were those beating the drums of war if the aftermath of the electoral process did not swing in favour of their preferred candidates, Ni­gerians in their droves voted for their con­sciences bearing in mind that elections are means to an end not an end in itself. Thanks to our understanding and resil­ience as a people. In fact, we have shown that Nigeria must not be consumed by the obsessive tendencies of evil elements ready to destabilise the country because there is tomorrow after these elections.

T he post-election speeches o f Presi­dent Jonathan and the President-elect Mu­hammadu Buhari were glorious, soothing and patriotic utterances needed for unity, cohesion and peaceful engagements of Nigerians at this moment. Both demon­strated statesmanship and sportsmanship. Their utterances call for sober reflection and should determine the agenda setting for the behaviour of the followers of the two gladiators now and before the hando­ver. Some k ey factors defined the times and moments of these historical elections.

First, this was a reward for consistency, tenacity, persistence and perseverance to Major General Buhari. After having a shot at the presidency for the fourth time, the yearnings for change and his message an­chored on change made a whole lot of dif­ference. Second, the essence, dynamics of and understanding the place of regional coalition in dictating the pace of electoral victory in a diverse nation like Nigeria was evident. No northerner can clinch the presi­dency by winning the 19 states in the north neither can the southerner by winning 17 southern states. Therefore, a viable and well defined coalition, national acceptability and the language that appeals to the general sen­sibilities of the people is what is expected to pull through. The rhetoric of pitching the South against the North was defeated.

Third, the credibility and fairness in the electoral process must be commended. This enabled Nigerians to have a substantial say in the process of choosing who to represent them in governance. The introduction of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC’s) and Card Readers are profound innovative landmarks for credible electoral process. The problems associated with the Card Readers are expect­ed of a new technology. It is a novel learn­ing process but we will surely overcome it. Fourth, identity and ethnic politics was shamed despite that fact that both to a larger extent determined the voting patterns of the elections. In Benue where the APC candi­date won for the first time since 1999 and in Niger state where the incumbent governor was defeated by David Umaru-a Christian in a Muslim dominated Senatorial District and in Lagos state where non-indigenes: three Igbo candidates won elections into the House of Representatives in Lagos State.

The successful candidates who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are Chief Oghene Egboh, Mrs. Rita Orji and Mr. Tony Nwoolu. Egboh won the House of Representatives seat for Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area while Orji won in Ajeromi-Ifelodun LGA and Nwoolu won the Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency were elected to the House of Representatives on the platform of APC were pointers to the fact that Nigerian democracy has come of age.

Whoever wins presidential election in a di­versified country like ours must have argued better and was able to close up on the ethnic rhetoric prevalent in our political space. Fifth, performance of the political parties, of candi­dates especially the incumbents who stood for elective positions proved a point. Governors Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Gabriel Sus­wam of Benue State and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State paid the price of owing to their perfor­mances. Before now, incumbent politicians capitalise on their powers and vulnerability of the electorate to win elections. Those who did not generally do well to the estimation of the electorate were punished and shown the way out. Lessons drawn indicated that Nigerians are now politically discerning. The people should not stop at only determining the fate of elected representatives but be ready to hold them accountable in all circumstances. If the voters are conscious of and begin to wield this enormous constitutional powers of theirs, we will begin to see the beauty of governance because those in positions of authority will be compelled to brace up to their responsibili­ties. The in-coming APC led government has an arduous task of nation building.

There is no gainsaying the fact that inher­ited prejudices, religion, ethnicity, civil war and regional biases shaped the narratives of our electoral processes. Therefore, the need to build bridges and shun juvenile trium­phalism is paramount. Round pegs should be placed in round holes in designated po­litical appointments. The enormous powers which are obviously overconcentrated at the centre should be devolved for optimal state p roductivity. T he n ew a dministra­tion must also engage the problems of the economy, security of lives and properties, profligacy in governance at all levels, job creation, affordable healthcare, proper bud­get implementation, and infrastructural development to mention but a few. Nigeri­ans need to have food on their tables too.

A properly managed sentiment of the electoral victory is a way forward. There­fore the new government should endeavour to unite the nation across ethic divides. Ni­gerians must be reminded that we have no other nation than Nigeria- this could only be achieved if all of us could think only Nige­ria. For once in the history of our electoral process the winner was magnanimous in victory while the loser embraced peace and was humbly in conceding defeat. President Jonathan must be commended for putting Nigeria first. His promise of conducting free, fair credible elections was faithfully kept. The new government owes Nige­ria one thing: a duty to good governance.

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