At long last, the 2015 general elections have come, although they may not have completely gone, as there are some contestants/parties that are already at the tribunals. For such contestants and parties, they will wait for the judiciary to decide their fates and those of their opponents. A lot has been written and said about the outcome of the elections and expectations from incoming administrations throughout the country. In charting a new course for the country, therefore, we need to put certain realities in their proper perspectives.

With regard to the presidential election, which is of interest to the generality of Nigerians, this should be the time for stocktaking. I believe the major contenders and their supporters, whether winners or losers, are reviewing the outcome of the pools in order to learn important lessons. This is where some people miss the mark. Going by the outcome of the election and its implications, there are three categories of people that need to have a deeper reflection. These are: (1) Buhari and his supporters; (2) Jonathan and his supporters; as well as (3) the people of Nigeria.

First, for Buhari and his supporters, while many people are congratulating him for achieving what is regarded as a great feat, the real winners are the Nigerian people. In spite of the wealth, power, arrogance, impunity, etc. at the disposal of the PDP, it took courage for the people of this nation to wrestle power from the “giant” and hand it over to a man they so shamefully and uncharitably maligned. Indeed, Buhari should be grateful to Nigerians that he is the favored candidate. It is not necessarily because of what he did or didn’t do. As a matter of fact, Buhari had done a lot in three previous attempts and yet could not clinch power.

As he and his Party, the APC, prepare to mount the saddle come May 29th, 2015, Buhari should be wary of the pitfalls that brought down the PDP. The sense of conquest is a mirage. Buhari has not conquered Nigeria. At best, he is a partner with Nigerians in seeking to turn things around and arrest the rot. Furthermore, Buhari should be careful of the persons around him. Those in the corridors of power can destroy the custodian of the power if he is careless and carefree. Nigerians gave him power in order for him to use it for the good of all, not just for the good of a select few. To a large extent, the reason Buhari was handed power was because many Nigerians believed he will not allow those in the corridors to hijack the power and the commonwealth, and then use them to “terrorize” the people. This was clearly the case with the PDP.

The second category of people who should have a deeper reflection is President Jonathan and his supporters. For them, I dare say that this is not the time for a blame game. Rather, it ought to be the time for sincere apologies to Nigerians. The PDP owes Nigerians apologies for wasting the opportunity and dashing the hopes Nigerians reposed in the Party. A Party that promised so much and gave so little! Engaging in the blame game will worsen the situation for the PDP. The President and his Party ought to realize that they have failed Nigerians so woefully that the people decided to look for someone else even while they were still in power! Power belongs to God. God gave it to the people. The people then decide whom to hand it over to, on trust. That the people retrieved power from PDP means that members of the Party should humble themselves before Nigerians if they ever wish to return to the saddle. 

If the PDP attempts to blame or harass the people for taking power from them and giving it to the APC, it means they have not learnt anything. Brandishing a so-called conspiracy theory against the President is neither here nor there. Seeking to immediately “harass” or “fight” the APC in the name of being a credible opposition will be counter-productive. If the party and its leaders are sincere, they will acknowledge that the rot that led to their disgrace had been evident long ago. 

When PDP’s democracy became “16 is greater than 19,” when those in the corridor of power became “more powerful” than the custodian of the power himself, when fuel subsidy became cash cow for the cabal, when dubious recruitment exercises could be arranged and thousands of young Nigerians fleeced of their pocket money, when repentant and unrepentant militants became the toast of the government, when electoral campaign became a campaign of calumny against the opposition, when the government did not care about the invasion and occupation of Nigerian territory by insurgents, when Nigerians did not matter to the PDP anymore, the people decided to seek an alternative. The shift of the election date, in an attempt to stem the descent, was only a postponement of the doomsday for PDP. On 28 March, Nigerians rose and spoke so loudly that it is only some of the people in the corridors of power who were so drunk that they could not hear the voice of the people. Indeed, till now, many of them seem not to hear. What a pity! To blame Attahiru Jega, the card reader, the North, the West, Chibuike Amaechi, or other external bodies is mere distraction.

Even the act of conceding defeat to the APC is not to the credit of Jonathan and PDP, but to the credit of the people of Nigeria. The determination of Nigerians to have a change was so strong and widespread that there was hardly any other option. Could Jonathan and PDP have chosen to confront Nigerians? That would have been a loose-loose situation. 

Finally, for the Nigerian people, it is not yet “Uhuru.” The change has been effected by reason of the result of the election. However, the work of rebuilding the nation has only started. Since the people rejected PDP because the party was not listening to the owners of the power, giving the power to APC could presuppose that the party is willing to listen. So this is the time for the people to begin to push forward some of the major issues that had kept the country on its knees for so many years. 

While no one should have the illusions that the APC will solve all the problems of Nigeria overnight, there are some important areas that must have a visible impact sooner or later. For example, the issue of corruption has become so endemic that it appears Nigerians schools are now offering courses on the “The Principles and Practices of Corruption.” Everywhere you turn, especially in public institutions, corruption is well seated. If Nigerians could say “No” to PDP, then they can reject corruption and heavens will not fall. The poor road infrastructure, epileptic or “Ebola” power situation, decay in education, collapsing health sector, etc. are just a few of the results of unbridled corruption. 

Nigerians must begin to ask questions about the cost of governance. If you employ someone and send him on a mission, it will be immoral or downright wicked for him to appropriate your entire resources and leave you to starve. Public officers must not feed on the blood of innocent Nigerians. Nigerians must demand from Buhari and his government a minimum level of respect for the people. If the incoming government attempts to strangulate Nigerians, they should know that the people are capable of giving it the PDP treatment. Simple!

Lawrence Onu
Port Harcourt

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