As the nation relishes the success of the March 28 2015 Presidential and National Assembly polls, there is a need for all the major stakeholders to apply the lessons inherent therein to the governorship and state House of Assembly polls in order to enhance and achieve the aggregate integrity of the 2015 general elections.
The nation and the world had watched with bated breath and palpable apprehension, the somber political atmosphere that characterized the campaigns. Not even the Peace Accord signed by the candidates of the two dominant political parties, President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, nor the incessant intervention of the international community and world leaders were enough to douse the tension created by the rambunctious activities of the dominant candidates.
But President Jonathan toed the line of statesmanship by calling General Muhammadu Buhari, on the phone to congratulate him before the winner was announced in honour of the Peace Accord, the international community and other interventions.
President Jonathan’s congratulatory wish is novel in the nation’s political history. It is, therefore, commendable. Coming at a time when his aides, party stalwarts and campaign handlers were still threatening fire and brimstone, it eliminated the crisis that would have arisen and saved the nation national embarrassment. It portrays President Jonathan as a statesman indeed.
President Jonathan’s statesmanship is a lesson for the governorship candidates, especially the incumbent ones, and state assembly candidates in the April 11 election. They need to emulate the courageous step of President Jonathan to consolidate the success so far recorded in the 2015 election. They have a responsibility to ensure the aggregate integrity of the 2015 elections.
The President-elect, Buhari, has also demonstrated magnanimity in victory by allaying the fear of reprisals that had gripped the nation.
He said: “President Jonathan has nothing to fear from me. Although we may not agree on the methods of governing the nation, he is a great Nigerian and still our president. He deserves our support and permanent respect by virtue of the office he has held. This is how an honourable nation treats its servants and conducts its affairs.” This promise we expect the President-elect to fulfill and uphold to the letter in the interest of the nation.
President-elect Buhari’s pledge has doused the fears and apprehension of the opposition who, looking him with the mirror of a former dictator, had feared that he would spew venom.
The pockets of failings recorded during the election notwithstanding, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and its chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, deserve commendation for introducing the permanent voter card and the card reader and insisting on its use despite the brazen opposition from powerful quarters. The nation is the better for it.
The electoral body should, however, go back to the drawing board to ensure that the lapses recorded during the March 28 election are rectified. It has to maintain its partisanship while also firming up its logistics. Card readers should be made more functional, voting materials should arrive voting points more promptly, and unscrupulous politicians should not be allowed to hijack or hoard voting materials.
Except in some few cases, the security agencies gave a good account of themselves. Their non-partisanship contributed to the peaceful manner the presidential and National Assembly elections were conducted. But now that the tension and apprehension are over, they need to demonstrate greater professionalism and ensure a more peaceful election.
The greatest accolades go to the electorate and other Nigerians, the real owners of democracy, for demonstrating resilience, patience, understanding and rugged determination before, during and after the elections. As heroes and heroines of democracy and this election, they need to approach the final leg of these elections with greater determination and doggedness.
As the Peace Accord has also been endorsed at state level, all candidates should respect the letters of the Accord and conduct themselves in line with its spirit.
The use of reader card and the PVC during the presidential and National Assembly elections has thrown up an election that truly reflects the wish of the people. There is a need for all the candidates in the April 11 state elections to follow the same path. If people’s verdict is allowed to prevail nationwide, a foundation would have been laid for sustainable good governance and development.
The nation has made a statement to the world with the outcome of the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections. It now has to allow the statement to resonate and sink through the peaceful and credible conduct of the April 11 state elections that a new Nigeria has been born – a nation ready to deliver welfare and security to its people and a giant set to take its place on the African continent and in the world.