Nigeria steps back from the brink

Hail to the chiefs! Contrary to widely held belief that the just concluded presidential elections would lead to chaos, the nation has survived. The loser, PDP’s President Goodluck Jonathan, did what seemed unthinkable, by congratulating the obvious winner, APC’s Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, even before INEC counted the last vote.

Yet again, in typical fashion, by that singular act, President Jonathan pulled this nation back from the brink, as if he read Rev. Chris Okotie’s commentary in which he declared emphatically that each time

Nigeria seemed to head to a dead end, God always stepped in. That article titled “The light in this present darkness”, was posted on his Facebook page. In it, he posited that “The current general elections, especially the presidential poll, should never be regarded as a

referendum on the corporate survival of Nigeria as some misguided irredentists want us to believe…

It is instructive to note that each time this country gravitates within the orbit of cataclysm, God always intervenes to save the situation… Whatever decisions we take; whatever action we take; we must remember that Nigeria is more than any of us. We must make it survive”.

Anyone who had doubts about the dark pall of uncertainty that hung over the nation, or smirks at the notion that once again, as often before, politics and the underhand manipulations of sectarian and religious sentiments goaded this nation to the brink, must be living in denial. Even the international community feared for the worst. Sectarian groups had threatened to unleash terror if their preferred candidate lost, and with hindsight, the nation and international community knew they had the capability to carry out that threat.

It will be recalled that aside calls on the government and political stakeholders for the conduct of free and fair elections and the eschewing of violence championed by President Obama and the European Union, there was the exigent visit by such a high Level official in the caliber of the US Secretary of State, Sen. John Kerry, who personally visited the country mid-way through the Davos Summit before the initial postponement of the February 14 date by 6 weeks. We even had a record two peace accords in place, all in a bid to forestall an evitable breakout of violence, which helped drive home the point that Nigeria must transit peacefully.

In another article titled “A Message for Jonathan & Buhari”, Rev. Okotie had said “… Some pessimists have called it a make or break; I call it a breakthrough… If we fail, God forbid, it will mean that the death of our heroes past has been in vain. We must not allow that to happen. The June 12 elections did not consume the lives of Nigerians, yet it is still the benchmark for elections so far… Simple logic demands that we ought to have improved on the June 12 elections, not declined from it… “Nigeria is not on a spin as being widely feared; neither is it about to disintegrate as being speculated by those who misinterpret the global forecast of a document by the United States National Intelligence Council, which only presented its conclusions on Nigeria… It is left for our politicians and policy formulators to heed the warnings contained in that document … despite sub-par economic performance over the years; the resilience of this nation

is amazing. Our recovery rate from national crises is second to none”.

Though the April 11, 2015 gubernatorial elections still remain, as well as the postponed judgment

on the president-elect, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari’s eligibility to contest, with the new lease on life

which the nation has been given, those should be mere formalities. With the peace with which Nigerians

have gone about their respective businesses, we may well have bettered the June 12 aftermath, because, in-spite of the pockets of incidents and deaths recorded around the country through the period of this political process, it has been reasonably fair.

The last minute ploy by a former minister of the Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe to disrupt the collation process could have been the spark that diabolical forces needed to spin the fragile peace the nation had at the time towards the much touted breakdown of law and order. Despite that , only the supreme being, God, could have steered INEC Chairman, Prof.Attahiru Jega and his officials aright in handling the incendiary situation they encountered from Orubebe.

Surely, now, no one can turn back the hands of the clock of our political ascendancy. The electorate and party faithful are the real winners here, and must be commended for the uncommon maturity with which the outcome of the elections was handled.

Neither political party engaged the other in any form of acrimony. This is a landmark paradigm shift in our democratic experience.

Evidence of this shift is discernable in the fact that a week to the April 11 election, the palpable tension that filled the air in the weeks leading to the March 28 presidential elections and subsequent announcement of the results has dissipated.

So far, no ugly or untoward incidents have been recorded across the nation. This portends good for the nation’s nascent democracy which has witnessed a hitch- free transition of the power baton between two opposing parties. With the opening of this new chapter,

we must now begin to build on this new foundation. Politicking can never again be allowed to rear its ugly head. The play of ethnicity and religion in politics which has caused untold hardships and loss of property over the years mustn’t continue to impinge on development and consign the country to a state of under-development.

So, whether we voted for change or transformation, it doesn’t matter because both words are synonymous. We must still move forward as a nation and aspire to better the gains of 2015. May 29 is the set date for the beginning of that transforming change.

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