As the curtain draws close on the 2019 Presidential/NASS elections with congratulatory messages raining in on the winners and losers being urged to be magnanimous in defeat, we will like to take a look at some of the highlights of the just concluded elections. So, here are six (5) things we learnt from the exercise:
One thing that was obvious across board was the low turn-outs of registered voters at different polling stations. It is estimated that, barring the voters who were disenfranchised in one way or the other, about 35% of the 84,004,084 registered voters participated in the election. This means that less than half of the electorate partook in a process that eventually determined the political destiny of a nation as vast as ours. Well, retrospectively, one cannot but consider that the sudden last-minute rescheduling of the election [from February 16 to February 23] could have taken its toil on the response of the electorate. Nonetheless, there is no ruling out the fact that a host of legible voters seemed to be disinterested in partaking in the process as they did not have faith in any of the top aspirants thus choosing to tread the path of abstinence. At the end, the February 23 Presidential/NASS election was greeted by poor turn-out.
The third force that never was
The likes of Omoyele Sowore, Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and some others did their bit – or may be gave their best shot – but it was never going to be enough. We all knew beforehand that each of them will not be able to stand up to the crowd-pulling capability of the top two (political parties/presidential aspirants) but they deserve some commendation for staying in the race to the very end. And though we may not know the impact their collaborative effort might have generated but it was certain that, some Nigerians would have very much appreciated the existence of a third force that is capable of shaking the political landscape for the emergence of a new Nigeria – the third force was just a daydream at the end.
That said, I do not think we have to wait for years to see that third force. As the saying goes, “the journey of a thousand mile begins with a single (purposeful) step”; these individuals have started something and now is not the time for them to hole up. They have got to make attempts to remain relevant in Nigeria’s political schematics; becoming notable and constructive oppositions [through their party platforms] with an overarching objective of contributing to nation-building. More so, they got to devote time, effort and resources towards the advancement of politics at the grass-root level. Having a third force [that is well-founded and proactive] could be essential in ensuring that we do not towards becoming a one-party state especially at the centre.
Democracy under siege?
Democracy avails the citizens of a nation the opportunity to choose their leaders without any impedance. As such, it is imperative that the necessary machinery be set in place to ensure that people freely express their opinions through the vote they cast without nursing fears. However, seeing people scampering about for safety as they were faced with threats while at the polling unit coupled with the burning of sensitive electoral materials and hearing of the discrepancies that trailed the past electoral exercise does auger ill for our democracy – there is an attack on the democratic process. Plus, I wonder if the obsessive power mongers – the political desperadoes – will ever embrace the tenet of fair play as we often see in the game of football.
The Northern and Southern divide
The presidential election showed us that Nigerians are highly divided along ethnic lines even when it comes to issues of national development. While the top two presidential aspirants are of northern origin, their running mates came from different geographical zones, and one could see [from the voting trend] that this played a part in swaying voters. But this is not to say that there were no few remnants who were out to vote for national development. However, it has to be stressed that there is a need for Nigerians to look beyond ethnicity in such a matter like deciding who takes over the mantle of leadership. National development is only going to be possible if we, as a people, stand together in unison – maintaining a good bond – to speak against the ills of our leaders as we chart the course for a new Nigeria.
Upset is possible in the Nigerian political space
We have also seen some upsets in the just concluded election. The major talking point is, of course, about the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who lost his constituency’s mandate, having been upstaged by a certain Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Another one (upset) is Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s loss to Mr. Bolaji Tunji while vying for the Oyo South Senatorial District seat. Also, the likes of senators George Akume, Godswill Akpabio and Andy Ubah were taken to the cleaners in their bid to claim a seat in the 9th Senate. Looking at the other side of the coin, that these top politicians failed in their ambition goes to show the people’s need for a change. The people might have succeeded in passing a message that performance trumps personality/name to these veteran political stakeholders. Additionally, I feel the umpire (that is, INEC) deserves some commendation for allowing event follow due course in this respect.
The Presidential/NASS election might have come and gone but with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar rejecting the results, most recently tabling his demands to the Abdulsalami led peace committee and looking to go to the tribunal, more drama could unfold in the days ahead. In the meantime, it is hoped that, with President Muhammadu Buhari retaining the seat of power, the next level promised will be an all-inclusive nation-building [and nation-bonding] drive that put the interest of the masses first above other sentiments.
Note: These are the personal opinions of the Writer.