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Election 2015: Nigerian democracy comes of age

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inec“We don’t vote for people because they are the exact embodiment of our values, but because they are likely to be the most responsive to them.”
– Charles M. Blow (American Journalist; 11 August 1970 – Date)

ELECTIONS allow democratic nations a chance to celebrate the rebirth of values of popular representation of the interest of the people. Nigerians have, through the recent 2015 General Elections, celebrated this important aspect of democracy. More importantly, the loss of an election by an incumbent Nigerian President in Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to an opposition candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, signifies the coming of age of the Nigerian democracy. While congratulating Muhammadu Buhari, one must thank President Goodluck Jonathan for living up to his oath of office and promise that he would conduct a credible election. This is to his eternal credit and history will forever be kind to him. We Nigerians are very religious people; thus one can say that God has been very kind to Dr. Jonathan. He has scored so many firsts that one has almost lost count – first Nigerian President from the South South; first southern minority elected President; first Nigerian President with no shoes while growing up, etc. Jonathan is on his way out with our prayers and gratitude ringing in his ears. This is no time for recriminations. This is a time for celebrations by the generality of Nigerians. We have every cause to be happy.

A few years ago, an American think-tank  came up with the notion that our nation is at a risk of a cataclysmic breakup come 2015. Neither this group, nor the generality of Nigerians, ever envisaged that the dreaded year 2015 would be the year that elections would be held. To worsen our situation, the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists made life very difficult for Nigerians especially in the North eastern part of the country through mindless attacks. They were intent on not only disrupting our hard-worn democracy but creating divisions as well as instigating a possible civil war in the country. Thus the fact that the elections were held, winners emerged and were generally accepted, represent small victory for our beloved Nigeria. For these, and much more, Nigerians of all backgrounds deserve praise and congratulations. We now call on all the candidates to call their men and women to order. The country had witnessed some caustic pronouncements over the last one year or so. We put that down to exuberance in politicking, although it has been at a great cost to our relations as well as the economy. Fear of a possible post-election mayhem has led to capital flight and loss of investments. However, we must accept this as the pains of democracy at its infancy.  The time now is for healing the wounds and engaging in nation-building. We owe it to future generations not to orchestrate upheavals that would set our nation backwards.  One

congratulates and welcomes our new President, Muhammadu Buhari. One remembers his time as a Military Head of State way back between December 1983 and August 1985. One wishes to remind him that this is no time to fight old battles. He should forgive and forget for the sake of Nigeria. The world of the 1980s has changed remarkably. The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Sudan have all disintegrated. Our country share similar fault lines with these aforementioned countries, not least because of religious, ethnic and relative poverty. You, General Buhari has been accused of being a religious bigot and an Islamist. Most of us do not believe a word of this, hence we voted for you. Moderation is the part to toe Sir. Leave religion to the individual and his / her God. We fought for democracy and Press freedom. We know there cannot be a renewal of that notorious Decree 4 but we want a moral rebirth all the same. One would want to see Boko Haram wiped off the map. Our military should be empowered and provided to protect us. One wants to see the excesses of all those ethnic militias or paramilitary organisations curtailed. The economy would have to be developed to absorb these people in productive and legitimate ventures. The new Nigeria we believe you can build, you will build, must accommodate all of us.

Finally, one wishes to call on those of us who have no political affiliations that the job of shaping the nation and the behaviour of its politicians is only half done. We should let the new government know that desperate individuals or political opportunists have no place in civilised government. The corruption and profligacy that characterised the last government must never be allowed in this or any other Nigerian government at any level. The security of our nation must never be allowed to be jeopardised by any group however powerful. We should be ready to put the new government under strict watch. We voted for General Buhari, not because he is a saint, but because we think he is likely to be more responsive to our national aspirations and yearnings. Our democracy and freedom were won with the blood and sweat of great Nigerian nationalists and these must be protected. Echoing the words of the immortal President Nelson Mandela of South Africa – never, never again must our beautiful and fertile country Nigeria be allowed to degenerate to the levels we had witnessed in the last six years when a group was completely excluded from the governance and all good things seemed to flow in the direction of a particular ethnic grouping to the detriment of others. Nor must we allow or encourage the oppression of one group by another. • Bamigboye, a consultant gynaecologist, lives in the UK.


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