I must begin by congratulating General Muhammadu Buhari for his victory at the presidential election. For a long time, America’s Abraham Lincoln has been projected as an example of repeated failures not signalling defeat. Today, Buhari has made history, and people would say, “Don’t give up on your dream. Like Buhari, if you fail the first time, try again. Keep trying until you succeed.” As Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo would say, “It is not over until you win!”
After trying three times, Buhari has succeeded in his fourth attempt. The election called upon a valuable skill possessed by Nigerians. Thanks to our Super Eagles, Nigerians are excellent in the art of permutation. For two days (spiced with Jega’s famed breaks), Nigerians stayed glued to their TV sets, using every available tool from the ubiquitous pen and paper, to calculators of different models, to Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet applications, to do personal collation of results. The collation period was a time of frenzied permutations.
Now that Buhari has been declared as the winner, Nigerians must realize that it is not yet uhuru. As jubilant crowds celebrate in the streets of various cities and towns across Nigeria, it should be clear in everyone’s mind that this is just the beginning. There is a huge amount of work to be done.
First, it must be clear that there is no loser here. The winner is Nigeria’s democracy. Therefore, no person should ridicule any other person for voting President Goodluck Jonathan, or any other candidate. Such ridicule would only serve to instigate a violent reaction. What we need now is unity, for all Nigerians to come together and build a greater nation. Buhari would be sworn in as president of all Nigerians, not president of the APC, nor of those who voted for him.
For real progress, we need a vibrant opposition. The PDP must not disband. Parties win and lose elections. It is all part of the political process. The electorate do not like you; you lose. You go back to the drawing board and fix your mistakes; next time the electorate may come to your side. The danger lying ahead is mass defection from the PDP. The winner-takes-all mentality in Nigerian politics must be disposed of. That psyche makes many politicians to seek always to be in the ruling party. They just cannot seem to afford being in the opposition.
Mass defection would not help Nigeria in any way. It would only make the APC to govern without a leash. Nigeria needs the PDP and other parties to stay as a check to the APC. Working together for the good of Nigerians, we would enjoy good policies by the APC, since they would know that if the PDP offers better policies, the voters would support them in the next polls.
While the PDP remains a strong opposition force, Buhari and the APC should be willing to inculcate good ideas if presented by the opposition parties, and be willing to include resourceful persons from opposition parties in the government. In the same vein, the PDP must not make life unnecessarily difficult for Buhari. Opposition should be for the sake of Nigerian’s good, not for the mere sake of opposition. Good policies should enjoy bipartisan support, so this nation can move forward.
Nigerians have spoken with their votes. The allegations of swollen votes (on both sides) notwithstanding, Nigerians are ready to stand behind their new president, Buhari, and his able deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as they lead Nigerians in charting a new path. It is going to be a long journey, but we can be sure that with each step forward, Nigeria would get better.
Let me thank President Goodluck Jonathan for his sportsmanship in allowing Nigerians to choose their leader. He has shown that it is not a do-or-die affair. His appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega as INEC boss is one that would enter the annals of history as one of his best decisions ever. Jega has done a great job. With each subsequent election, let us build upon this foundation. Backward never, forward ever!
PS: Here’s my Facebook post after the results were announced:
Congrats to all Nigerians for a democracy that has come to stay. Nigerians showed resilience and passion in this election. Congrats to GMB for his doggedness. Now we have our own Abraham Lincoln. Congrats to GEJ for showing Nigerians that he isn’t power drunk. Unlike what some other persons would’ve done, he allowed the process to reflect the majority’s will. Congrats to Prof. Jega. He has proven his mettle. Let subsequent elections build on the foundation he has laid. One day cows, children, palm trees and fishes wouldn’t come out to vote. There are vistas of opportunities beyond the horizon. Let’s all step into the future as one united country under God.