The Rebirth of Nigeria’s Democracy – Moshood Isah

Moshood Isah

Like any other well-meaning Nigerian, I am overwhelmed by the outcome of the just concluded presidential election. Several issues of national interest crisscrossed my mind as I set out on this piece but first, may we dedicate the peaceful conduct of the presidential election and the rebirth of the country’s democracy to Almighty Allah. Before the election commenced, global attention was on us and was keen to use the outcome of the election to measure our democratic maturity. I am very sure Nigeria has not disappointed the whole world with the outcome of its presidential election.

As a matter of fact, the nation has joined the rank of nations that conduct peaceful, credible, and acceptable elections. Nigeria seats high up there among democratic nations as President Goodluck Jonathan did not even wait for the official announcement from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before conceding defeat and congratulating his opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari. This singular action by Dr. Jonathan confirmed his image as a peaceful and honourable man. The President will go down as the first and best among the rest when it comes to the roll call of real democrats in Africa. The United Nations and other foreign bodies have also doffed their hats for Nigeria and the President for the smooth conduct of the past elections.

General Buhari and his party, All Progressives Congress (APC) have taken the day but the real winner of the elections is Nigerian Democracy. By and large, the heroes are the dogged and resilient Nigerians who remained patient and civil despite all the uncertainties surrounding the polls.

My special encomium goes to President Jonathan for leading by example and enabling the change in the political system that has come to this country. That famous phone call to congratulate the president-elect was a monumental feat which only President Jonathan has attained in the history of this nation. The statement released by the President went a long way in restraining any form of negative post-election reaction from aggrieved parties. It was a sheer display of political sportsmanship and an enviable attribute of a statesman.

Nigerians will forever appreciate the National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and other Security Chiefs for displaying the professionalism and timely warning and advice that has brought about peaceful conduct of the elections so far. Though, their initial advice for INEC to postpone the elections by six weeks was cynically criticised, the postponement ultimately turned out to be the best decision for the nation. It gave avenue for Nigerian troops to incapacitate terrorists to the extent that peaceful elections were held even in the North Eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Thus, we have seen outcome of the elections in those areas. Ultimately, the elections were a true reflection of the people’s choice, as no section or region of the nation was inappropriately disenfranchised.

Talking of peoples’ votes counting, we won’t be celebrating this historic period of our nation without our amiable, calm, ever reliable and credible electoral umpire, Professor Attahiru Jega. What more can you say about this wonderful personality? Immediately after he was appointed INEC Chairman in 2010, I knew that President Jonathan was bent on keeping his words with regards to conducting credible elections and replenishing the electoral system. The professor has redefined the electoral system in all ramifications.

From the production of Permanent Voters’ Cards, which can serve citizens for a long time, the introduction of the Smart Card Reader was a masterstroke at ensuring electoral manipulation is brought to the barest minimum. There is also need to say that the way Professor Jega handled the tantrums thrown at the National Collation Centre by the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe (good to know Orubebe later apologised for his infamous action) was simply epic. His tranquillity in the face of extreme provocation was outstanding and represents a virtue people aspiring to leadership should acquire.

I would also congratulate General Muhammadu Buhari for his historic victory in the election. He is the definition of determination, resilience and doggedness. There is no gainsaying that General Buhari emerged President after four tumultuous and torturous attempts. The General’s perseverance is worthy of emulation. There seems to be good reasons to look forward to Buhari’s time in the Presidency in the high hope and expectation that he would tackle Nigeria’s persistent problems with the same spirit of endurance. My simple advice to the People’s General is, ‘please sir, do not disappoint the over 15 million voters who see you as messiah and voted you into power’.

Finally, I laud the ever-present Nigerian citizens who defied all ethnic and religious manipulations to come together and vote for the candidate who they feel can bring about the change they desire. Special praise goes to the people of Bauchi State who defied the 24 hours curfew to see that they protected their votes to the end. This has gone to show the power of the people in deciding who leads them over the next four years. This is the dawn of a new era in Nigerian politics. The governing party should not take the electorate for granted and should ensure it delivers on its promises to the people.

Moshood Isah writes from Wuye, Abuja and can be reached on Moshoodpm@gmail.com

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