2015 Elections: The takeaways Fashola missed | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Letters, Opinion

2015 Elections: The takeaways Fashola missed

Posted: Apr 28, 2015 at 12:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Okafor C. Udoka


Well, Nigeria has proven that it has come of age with the successful conclusion of 2015 general elections. For me, we showed unmatchable spirit to sustain our nationhood and proved to naysayers that Nigeria can survive beyond 2015 and indeed blossom to become the model of development and prosperity.

Having said that, with benefit of the past and behavioural pattern, I must observe that had the presidential election gone the other way, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state would have invaded all national newspapers with his presidential election “take aways!”

Given that the Lagos State governor is overwhelmed with joy of victory to bombard us with his trademark election “take aways” which he usually pontificates whenever APC get decisively mauled at the polls, I guess another person can mount the stump and fill his role.

So, here are some “take aways” from the 2015 presidential election which I guess Governor Fashola forgot to write.

One, Nigeria is making “slow and steady” progress in political maturity.

For example, after President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari last month, it is becoming a common feat to see losers accept defeat and pick up the courage to ring and congratulate winners in elections.

The importance of this feat must be acknowledged and celebrated because it saves the system of tension associated with post-election and give in-coming administrations the latitude to hit the ground running once it is sworn into office.

Two, if we put into account that APC (and its founding parties like ACN, CPC and ANPP) never concede defeat in elections, and from the army of those who had conceded defeat in the last general election so far, it seems members of PDP are better managers of election defeat than their APC counterparts. In fact, to APC, any election it wins is credibly free and fair but the one it loses is grossly “flawed, manipulated, militarised and stomach infrastructure propelled.” It is hoped that the lessons from the PDP would be well assimilated by APC and replicated when it starts losing its goodwill tomorrow because the point is this: political maturity and stability are sine qua non for national development and APC cannot afford to remain the Igbo proverbial hen, which if it cannot eat, it must destroy as we saw in Anambra 2013 and Ekiti 2014 governorship elections.

Three, perseverance and hope in electoral system work. No matter how long it takes, a diligent politician would be comforted by the electorate one day. President-elect Buhari is a living testimony of this assertion: this was a man that was thoroughly de-marketed in the South by PDP as a non-redeemable religious fundamentalist since 2003; his name used to invoke fear of religious extremism and crass ethnocentrism in the South but today he is the president -in –waiting, courtesy of his courage, hope and trust that one day would be his own day.

Four, the newest words in our political lexicon are performance and change. The way it is now, nobody or political party is immune from the “change tsunami” taking root across the country. Henceforth,performance in office would determine the continuous stay in office of political players; it is exciting to learn that it is now perform in office or the electorate would get you sacked at the next general election.

Five, there seems to be emerging bandwagon effect in Nigerian elections.

Obviously, after the presidential election, some states reasoned that being in opposition to the government at the centre would deny them some dividends of democracy; hence, they voted for APC in governorship and States legislative elections with no emphasis on competence andbackground.

Perhaps that explains the magical turn of events in states like Jigawa, Bauchi and Kastina where the outgoing PDP governors are widely reported to have delivered in all sectors. However, band -wagon effect discourages performance and nurturing of viable opposition on which true democracy is cultivated and nurtured.

For me, if a party has performed, we must have the courage to retain it in office irrespective of the aroma of the goodies which comes with associating with the party at the centre.

Six, strong opposition saves the country from democratic tyranny of the ruling party by giving the electorate alternative in hard times.

Nigerians voted for APC because they seem dissatisfied with PDP and it now lies with APC to justify its mandate or be sacked from office the same way it got elected.

However, credit must be given to President Jonathan for allowing the growth of strong opposition in Nigeria. It is not hard to guess that an Olusegun Obasanjo would have destroyed APC at conception the same way he uprooted the growth of APP and AD in 2000s.

Seventh, it is not debatable that beyond germane issues of security, unemployment, poverty, power and economy which defined the just concluded presidential election, the North West, North East, South South and South West primarily voted along ethno-religious and regional considerations; if anything, this practice shows a clear bias against high ideals of patriotism and national cohesion. And this trend is condemnable; so, concerted efforts must be made to uproot it before presidential elections end up giving us sectionalists and tribalists as leaders in Nigeria.

Eight, underage voters is a menace we have not shown enough commitment to eradicate in Nigeria. For every election to be credible, it must be free and fair; and the underage voters we saw in the north during the general elections give politicians from the north undue advantage over their counterparts from the south in presidential election. And that negates fairness, which is an important ingredient of credible elections.

So, as we appraise the 2015 presidential election and project for 2019, every effort must be made to ensure that we stop underage voters from taking part in elections in the north going forward.

Nine, the election of non-Yoruba to represent Amuwo-Odofin, Ajeromi-Ifelodun and Oshodi-Isolo federal constituencies in the House of Representatives is a feat worthy of commendation and celebration given that it goes a long way to cement our bond of brotherhood.

The point is this: every Nigerian should be able to live and become the best he can be professionally, financially and socio-politically in any part of the country he finds himself.

But for this to be institutionalised, we must start eradicating all structures, snags and practices such as state of origin, federal character principle, indigeneship rights, etc which we had erected to undermine the emergence of a new Nigeria.

Indeed the time has come for us to take a stand and work towards it: do we want a new Nigeria or are we satisfied with what Obafemi Awolowo called a “mere geographical expression?”  It is my urge that we want the former. But for that to become a reality, we must replace state of origin with state of residence and say goodbye to indigeneship rights, tribalism, sectionalism, religious bigotry,favouritism, nepotism, etc. And earnestly build a new Nigeria, which we shall bequeath posterity with pride and high sense of fulfilment.


•Udoka wrote in from  Lagos