The last few months had been a tortuous one for dear country. Since certain figures declared interest in certain political posts, the political atmosphere of Nigeria had been intense. Ever since then, governance had taken flight for politicking as discussions on how to move Nigeria forward were largely put on hold, and political discussions took the center stage.
Last year heralded the primaries of different parties and we all know the sham that characterized the whole exercise. Where dollars did not rain, figures were simply inflated through invisible party members who suddenly came out from the moon. And on other occasions, standard-bearers were cherry-picked by some oligarchs. This is Nigeria, and that is politics.
The atmosphere became more intense as we rammed into the electioneering year (2019) and the flagbearers of various registered political parties came to the limelight. More than 73 parties contested for the numero uno office in Nigeria. As we counted a week to the D-day, the tension became higher. Then, lies, rumours, fake news, baseless allegations, political witch-hunting, personal attacks, permutations and whatnot were already dotting the Nigerian political space. The last minute postponement of the election by the INEC on logistic ground also elicited mixed reactions.
Foot-soldiers on social media would not rest as they hurled abuses and diatribes at one another, obviously doing the biddings of their paymasters. Some of us that did not receive a dime from these aspirants but stood our ground based on our personal convictions also became victims of their ceaseless invectives. In fact, it got to a level that I was pushed to the wall, and had to enter into written missiles with some of them all in the name of who gets what, when and how (copyright: Harold Lasswell).
We told them that ceteris paribus the contest was between two parties, they shrugged it off. We proceeded that from all indications Buhari will re-emerge, they called us names. We also tipped them that Saraki would lose barring any last minute change, they said we knew nothing about politics. Finally, the dust is settled. Winners had emerged; losers should try again later. After all, there is always a lesson in failure.
Personally, I believe this year’s election was free, fair and credible. Though violence and inadequacies marred the electioneering process in few areas, the credibility of the election should not be ruled out outright. On a scale of 10, I will score the electoral umpire 7. At no time have elections been 100% free and fair in the history of representative democracy. Even in advanced democracies, inconsistencies are still pronounced in electoral processes; a pointer to the fact that perfection solely belongs to the Creator.
If a Dino Melaye who had been at loggerheads with the presidency could still win his seat back, it speaks volumes to the independence of the electoral commission. On the flipside, if an Ajimobi who is in the good book of the ruling party could lose his constituency, one thing is clear: the will of the people prevailed. The case of Bukola Saraki should be a story for another day. The man who boasted that he would teach Nigerians how to play politics as though he had a PhD in Political Sciences now understands that the electorate are the best tutors when it comes to democratic politics.
Moving forward, if an Osibanjo --- the second citizen of Nigeria --- could lose his polling unit, it shows the manifestation of democracy as government of the people in the exercise. In essence, I don’t think there should be much ado about the elections again. Those who are not content should head to the court rather than disturb public peace. The cumulative effect is that lawyers will get fatter (But why didn’t I do law? Well, I am pleased with my sociology).
Moreover, some governors who ran their buccal cavities in the outgoing dispensation; played God and dubbed themselves constituted authorities now know that when we talk of democracy the people are the “constituted authorities”. Some supposed godfathers of Nigerian politics now know their worth as they could not deliver their wards for their preferred candidates. It was not business as usual where the people would win the ELECTION, but the political stalwarts would win the COUNTING. In short, political actors should be humble; they should realize that democracy which operates in Nigeria is a government of the people and for the people. The people are the employers while they are mere employees --- servants if you like.
On a final note, now that the elections have been won and lost, shall relationships that had gone sour on the altar of politics go sweet again? I hope you know a man divorced his wife for supporting Buhari. Silly, right? I must also have offended some friends due to my political leanings in recent times, do accept my unreserved apologies. Shall our friendship retain its normal course again? Above all, shall Nigerians come together despite the differences in their political sentiments before the elections to ensure that governance and development prevail? Shall the winners see themselves as government officials rather than party-men, and thus encourage a level playing field for all? In all, let’s come together again to discuss how Nigeria can be better again. If you have to criticize, be civil and constructive. May the incoming dispensation be a turning point in the life of every Nigerian. Amin somebody!
Abdullah is of the better-by-far University of Ilorin. Reach him via 08090637356.