Saturday’s election is no doubt a contest between President Goodluck Jonathan and retired Major General Mohammadu Buhari of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) although there are other parties on the ballot. Many analysts both home and abroad have opined that this election looks like the first keen political contest in the history of Nigeria. This opinion is largely supported by the emerging strong opposition in the polity and the awareness that the new media (internet) has created.
The past few months and especially the last five weeks had soaked the nation in tensions almost resulting in some to start believing that the 2015 elections may the tipping point of Nigeria’s disintegration. But histories have shown that the issues that bonded Nigerians together surpass what two days elections can break; many still believe that the country will outlive these tensed moments. For this to happen the leading candidates of the two main parties have to act as statesmen.
First is the president, Goodluck Jonathan, in this week (March 23-27), he has the power of life and death, no doubt, many close to him want him to go for the broke and wield these powers. These friends of power really don’t strongly consider the aftermath of their desired president’s actions, all they want is for the president to use the force of his office and conquer the ‘enemies’. President Jonathan must however listen to his inner voice and act as the president of Nigeria, father of the nation and Nigerians, including General Buhari and everyone in the opposition.
This can only be made possible if the president caution his supporters to give room for credible, fair and violence free elections. Like he had said on many occasions that it was God that made him the president; if fate destines him to continue he can still win without helping the fate. The president needs to realize that most of the people pushing him to the extremes will not share the burden of history with him. Any action taken against members of the opposition this week no matter how genuine it may look will be seen as hunting down his opponents. He needs to address the nation as the president to assure Nigerians of a level playing ground, free, fair and credible elections. By this, either win or lose, he will remain a statesman.
For General Mohammadu Buhari, there are no doubts that this fourth attempt at becoming a democratically elected president of Nigeria seems the most sterling so far. His preparations for the Saturday’s election are to say the least highly tasking and rigorous, with the help of those who believe in him, he has transformed from a regional politician to a national candidate who has vigorously expanded his base; and like he had also said in the past that power belongs to God who gives to whom he wants. He needs to rein in his followers and supporters to eschew violence and resist reactions to the likely provocations. He must realize that if he wins the election, he will lead not only APC members and supporters but the entire country. He should also be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. Since he has submitted himself to the tenets of democracy and like he had done in the past three contests, resorting to judiciary must still be the choice for seeking redress for injustice if any.
The parties in the elections should use these last few days to peacefully woo the undecided without mudslinging and brickbats, Nigerians have tasted enough of these odious delicacies. Let us proof to the world that we can handle our destinies without interferences. Killing and maiming one another because of electoral contests will not solve the plethora of problems confronting the nation. Unstable Nigeria is a grave danger to the continent of Africa; hence the need for us to ensure that this testy season is handled with the utmost care.
INEC and the security must also avoid partisanship in the process; they should treat Nigerians as Nigerians and not as PDP or APC members. History will harshly judge any agency of government that allows itself to be compromised by any of the parties and/or candidates.
Everyone involved in the process leading to these elections must treat this time as a rare opportunity to grow democracy and expand the frontiers of participatory governing system. Electoral violence before, during and after the election will only further divide the people and slow the national progress. What Nigeria needs now is balm to heal her wounds and peace to evolve a prosperous nation.
Houston, TX US.