By Adisa Adeleye
After three unsuccessful attempts to become a democratically elected President of Nigeria, the former military Head-of-State, Gen Buhari (rtd) is now the President-Elect of Nigeria, having defeated the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan by 15.4 million to 12.8 million votes. Buhari‘s victory is a lesson in patience and doggedness. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has been magnanimous in defeat by congratulating the winner – a greater lesson in statesmanship and honour.
However, victory belongs to many Nigerians who exercised their democratic rights faithfully and confidently without resort to any form of violence. The INEC as the umpire had its moment of glory by conducting what might be adjudged a free and fair exercise in spite of observable lapses in different areas. It is unfortunate that the long period of preparation did not portray expertise in the distribution of Permanent Voters‘ Card (PVC) which guarantees the voting rights of Nigerians (though I did not get mine despite all efforts); Card Readers became enigmatic to both the INEC officials and voters alike.
The distribution of necessary electoral materials was not without its fault which affected adversely the voting schedules. However, Prof. Jega deserves applause for his maturity in the face of difficult challenges.
There is no doubt that the voting pattern of the presidential election would provoke keen interest in the politics of the country and encourage analysis of the current political system. Has the two-party system arrived? Although fourteen political parties put up candidates for a single post, only two parties (APC and PDP) showed significant results in the contest. Even before the polls, the activities (in billions of naira) of APC and PDP dominated the media waves and in gift items (infrastructure of the stomach) which played a significant role. Also, has the voting pattern shown any trace of dominance of one party over the other on political ideology and economic philosophy?
Political analysts saw in the last Saturday‘s voting a sharp division between those who want power for the North (North-West and North-East zones) and those who prefer their son; no matter what (South-South and South-East – principal ally in ruling). The most liberal South-West zone and the minorities of the North Central became active and interesting participants in the lively contest. The truth is that any possible winner in a national electoral contest would, after securing his home base, seek the support of the South-West and North-Central zones.
Buhari saw this point from the vantage position of his previous three defeats while Jonathan realized this too late, though his frequent visits to Lagos and other parts of the marginalized South-West was not without some impacts in Lagos and Ekiti. The two national elections have helped to shape the theory that South-East and South-South represent the political base of PDP, while the North-West and North-East remains the bastion of the APC. These two opposing blocks are known to brook no opposition and in some areas like Rivers State, no prisoner is kept. The scenario of votes of over one million in one state is reciprocated in the other sector, to the utter disgust of objective analysts.
Also, one important fact that emanates from last Saturdays voting pattern is that of the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the most effective and undisputed “Yoruba Leader” after Obafemi Awolowo. Even more than Awolowo, Bola Tinubu has been able to bring the Hausa/Fulanis and the Yoruba politicians into a workable political alliance for the first time in the political history of Nigeria.
Chief Emeka Ojukwu thought of a clear co-operation of Ibo and Yoruba interests through AD and APGA parties; that did not happen, APGA chose to be champion of Ibo interest and Willy Ibiano (Anambra Governor) sees himself as Leader of Ibo Renaissance, even to the extent of fighting APC in the South-Western zone of the Yoruba, while keeping his home, South-Eastern zone free of the enemy – Hausa/Fulani/Yoruba political party. It is yet to see whether the industrious Ibo race with its migratory instincts would like to be caged in a secluded environment alien to their entrepreneurial culture.
APGA as a party may soon learn from the experiment of AD which supported Obasanjo to win the 2003 presidential election to the ruin of their own party. Next Saturday could present an entertaining drama between PDP and APGA in the battle to win the soul of the Ibo race.
The Presidential contest has been won and lost and Gen Muhammadu Buhari, a former dictator is the President Elect. All eyes would be on him for the visible signs as a converted democrat. During his campaign tours, Buhari has expressed his regrets for dictatorship (behaviours which the time required) and has promised democratic environment and with its rich dividends. As people say, “Now is the opportunity” for Security and Prosperity. He has asked for a `CHANGE`, and Nigerians have obliged by putting their destiny in his hands and his party.
There should be no excuse with Ahmed Bola Tinubu (a shrewd political schemer) and others with him. Apart from the Boko Haram insurgency which Jonathan`s government is vigorously bringing to a successful end, there are other problems of insecurity in the land – open armed bank robberies, kidnappings and ransom demands, political thuggeries and ritual killings. There is no doubt that President Jonathan and his team tried their possible best to kill the hydra headed enemy without complete success. All eyes will now be on Buhari.
Perhaps a more serious problem facing the country after the presidential election is that of political disunity and divisiveness. The country seems to be back, unfortunately, in a 1966 situation, after the coup – North/West against the old East (now South-East and South-South zones without Edo and Niger Delta States) the glaring mistake of the past has been the addiction to winner-takes-all mentality. My answer is and always a form of genuine national government for a plural society with enthroned ethnic and religious interests.
There must be a form of recognition for over 12 million votes scored by the losing party. The alternative is to allow states won by the PDP to choose their representatives in the national government as it was the norm in the first republic. The central government was made up of representatives from each of the three regions.
The Jonathan government has been severely strictured for poor management of the economy, but it refuted it by stressing that its policy has achieved macro-economic stability (but with high unemployment). But the problem facing Buhari government is how to achieve macro-economic stability with high employment, and also what to do with the oil money (falling revenue) as an agent of economic growth or item for consumption. It is a hopeless policy to borrow in order to balance a budget with 80% devoted to re-current expenditure because of low revenue from falling oil prices.