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Notes on 2015 Nigerian elections

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BackON Tuesday, March 31, 2015, Nigerians were glued to their radio sets, television screens, computers and smartphones monitoring the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) collation of results at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.

While Mr. Godsday Orubebe has soiled and placed his name on Nigeria’s list of national villains, INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega imprinted his name in the annals of Nigeria’s history of great public office holders with his maturity, calmness, civilised and cultured response to Orubebe.

When the break till 8 p.m. was announced; I left my location and as I did so, a policeman was jumping and shouting, “We need change; Sai Buhari.

We need change. Put me in front of a camera; put me on the internet. We need change!” The policeman’s euphoric celebration was a snapshot and it encapsulated the collective mood which permeated the nation on that Tuesday.

This celebration which was infectious commenced on the day of the election (March 28, 2015), when the electorate thronged polling units to cast their votes. Real time pictures and comments were posted on social media platforms with the hashtag #NigeriaDecides.

The general elections have come and gone. The winners and losers are already getting acquitted with the handover procedures and ceremonies. While that is on going, here are some of my thoughts. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755), French writer and jurist, wrote: “The deterioration of a government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.”

One of PDP’s albatrosses was having a cornucopia of some of the crudest attack media personnel in the land. These infamous three musketeers were firing verbal ballistics like John Wayne from their vocal holsters.

In retrospect, it was and still is evident that they would wreak havoc on any political campaign team and unwittingly press the self-destruct button. From the recent happenings within the PDP; it is glaring that the party needs to hire or recruit thoroughbred public relations professionals to manage her campaigns.

Second, the party had the issue of angst among the top hierarchy. This was evident when bigwigs such as Aminu Tambuwal (speaker of the House of Representatives) Bukola Saraki (former governor of Kwara State) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers State governor) felt aggrieved and unceremoniously left the party.

When some of your closest friends begin to disassociate with you; then you have a problem or issues you have to deal with. Another issue was the reported imposition of candidates during the PDP primaries.

PDP and other parties should realise that people are not cattle. The collective mood of the country before the March 28 and April 11 elections does not accommodate the excesses of the PDP and other parties and still would not do likewise after the May 29 swearing in of the new President and Vice President.

On the other hand, one is tempted to reason that it may appear the PDP is in tatters for now. But, notwithstanding the travails of the PDP; the country still needs the PDP around as a viable opposition.

The disorderliness within the PDP reared its hydra-headed minotauric face when Orubebe (with a hat to match) decided to lose control of himself to let off some steam (like a frightened matador about to confront a raging bull in a medieval Spanish town ) in the full glare of national, regional and global camera lenses.

History and the heavens recorded this; as perhaps either the tipping point or the watershed moment where Nigeria either disintegrated into chaos (to be diplomatic); or where Nigeria crossed the bridge to slow but steady democratic journey.

Currently running is the question of how battered the PDP is. The answer would be known in the coming months and years as the opposition party would be the PDP. For those PDP politicians who have not come to terms with the present political realities of the next four years; the quote attributed to General Eric Shinseki (Ex-U.S. Army Chief of Staff) comes in handy- “If you don’t like change; you are going to like irrelevance less.”

All Progressives Congress (APC) The state is made for man; not man for the state – Albert Einstein That the APC party won the Presidential elections and a large chunk of the gubernatorial election isn’t new.

But what is new is the realisation that an opposition party unseated the ruling party (the rippling effect on other African democracies is yet to be fully comprehended.) Be that as it may, the APC would have to be committed to playing the role of the ruling party steering the nation through the economic bumps ahead and not become managers of corruption.

Neither should the APC denigrate the nation into a land of paradoxical lotus-eaters luxuriating in milk and honey. Rather than christening herself the political messiah-(which amounts to self-delusion of the worst order and a misplacement of priorities), the APC must endeavour to focus on economic and people-oriented policies and also carry the citizens along.

Several political gaffes of the PDP caused widespread consternation. The APC must not go that route; and must take heed in the Chinese proverb that say: “No matter how far you have gone in a road; once you realise your mistake; retrace your steps.” The main actors The main actors of the 2015 elections are going to be watched with the corner of our collective eye. President Goodluck Jonathan was quoted as saying: “He was in a cage.” One awaits his memoirs which should reveal the political mummified skeletons most commentators talked and wrote about.

Be that as it may, Nigerians would be grateful to Jonathan for appointing Jega several years ago. The Independent National Electoral Commission’s chairman has laid credence to the fact that there are still Nigerians in public office who are upright and won’t kow-tow or be waylaid from performing their job(s).

The voters were actors in the elections. While INEC busied herself with collating figures, some NGOs set up situation rooms that monitored reports from across the nation. And it was not a shock to see pictures of family members with their own mini-collation centres with iPads and tablets, smartphones, calculators, paper sheets, pens and pencils.

While commentators have freely given their varied counsel to the President-elect; I would just say to him that not everyone in APC would value his stance on integrity and corruption. Some years ago, a writer in a Nigerian daily, opined that “Nigerians of the post-colonial era are neither hungry nor greedy nor humiliated enough to exert themselves to become a world power.

They are too much addicted to instant and lavish self-enjoyment with little spirit of sacrifice for tomorrow. The great power motivation is solely lacking in them. On the whole, Nigerians of this era are too soft, too selfish and too naive for the great power adventure. Well, that was then. My opinion is crystal clear and in unambiguous sentence is that Nigerians have evolved.

Gone are those days when we only search for divine mercy to put a stop to self-indulgent revelries and widespread corruption echoing in the corridors of power. Politicians should remember that Albert Einstein was right when he said that “the state is made for man; not man for the state.”

What is left for political analysts and commentators is a post-mortem of the Jonathan administration while keeping an eye on the new administration of Muhammadu Buhari. The elections proved without any iota of doubt that Nigerians have evolved and would hold their new leaders accountable. Aina wrote from Lagos. dolapo@dolapoaina.com dolapowrites@yahoo.com


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