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Electoral notes

By Donu Kogbara
I AM still reeling from the General’s truly astounding victory! Three cheers for democracy!

Never before has an Opposition candidate conclusively trounced an incumbent in this country. And, given that Buhari had already suffered three electoral defeats (2003, 2007, 2011) – and that Jonathan had myriad advantages at his disposal, including a near-bottomless multi-billion-naira war chest and substantial influence over security agencies – many Nigerians (including this writer, on occasion) seriously doubted that Buhari’s fourth attempt would be successful.

I felt particularly pessimistic after witnessing the horrifyingly crude, violent and dishonest debacle that passed for elections in Rivers State last Saturday.Buhari-and-Jonathan

At one point, a foreign journalist colleague and I found ourselves in an Ogoni village where an APC agent had been assassinated by a PDP thug. As we tried to leave this grisly murder scene, we were threatened by some of the culprit’s cronies, who surrounded our car, brandishing bottles, clubs and machetes.

Dangerous elements

I thank God for allowing me to escape to tell the tale. I am also grateful to have been saved from death when I attended a rally in Okrika, the First Lady’s ancestral home, at which APC supporters were shot at and a police officer died.

Such incidents show us how ugly and fatal things can become when evil people try to win at all costs. And I heartily salute Mr President for firmly stopping dangerous elements in their tracks by graciously throwing in the towel.

It is no secret that some PDP members couldn’t stomach the idea of defeat and were ready to do ANYTHING to keep their party in power.  If Mr President had bought into this megalomaniacal mindset, he’d have greedily dug his heels in and Nigeria would have burst into flames and many lives would have been lost.

Mr President has patriotically insisted that “nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.” Nobody reasonable can disagree with his view that “unity, stability and progress…are more important than anything else”.

Bravo to Mr President for displaying integrity and departing the stage so stylishly and sanely. This iconic exit has earned him widespread admiration.

Even in places where he was comprehensively rejected by voters, he is being hailed as a hero. A friend from Kano tells me that Mr President is, all of a sudden, so adored by Kano natives that “everyone from the masses to the elite is praying for him and thanking him for dragging us back from the precipice. Nobody, not even our beloved Buhari, dares touch or embarrass Jonathan now.”

I’ve been pro-APC for a while, but I used to be one of Jonathan’s biggest fans. I eventually walked away from his camp because I was exasperated by his flaws, infuriated by his mistakes, sick of his wife and very upset about his failure to make major moves that would elevate our long-neglected Niger Delta region.

In a nutshell, I felt that he had a somewhat provincial outlook and didn’t fully grasp the enormous responsibilities associated with leadership.

But even when I had shifted my allegiance to Buhari, I never hated Jonathan and still yearned for him to get his priorities straight and show the world that a Niger Deltan man could perform magnificently on many levels.

Anyway, the past is less crucial than the present; and Jonathan has done the right thing; and I’m very glad that his tenure is ending on such a positive note.

Postscripts

I PERSONALLY have not encountered any outrages that have been committed by APC members. But PDP pals and relatives have told me about a few incidents.

Since I wasn’t born yesterday, I believe some of these stories and will not bother to swear that the APC is full of blameless saints.

Similarly, even though a ruling party is much better-positioned to inflict abuses on society, I will not claim that the PDP is exclusively populated by homicidal devils. I am absolutely sure that a certain percentage of APC supporters are psychos who will gladly kill, maim and incinerate without any provocation.

Meanwhile, I know for a fact that some PDP supporters are quality human beings who wouldn’t dream of hurting a fly.

And, by the way, one of my favourite VIPs is the super-smart PDP Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka. His recent BBC Hard Talk interview was a masterpiece.

Ditto Olisa Metuh, the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, a really nice guy who conducted himself very fluently and reasonably during the election campaign.

Ditto Jimi Agbaje, the PDP’s guber guy for Lagos. If APC didn’t have its own amiable and competent candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, I would be very happy to vote for Jimi (if I was registered to vote in Lagos, which I’m not!).

Ditto other PDP peeps who are too numerous to mention on this page.

Anxious brethren

The point I am making is that there are good and bad folks in every camp and the good folks need to join hands in a non-partisan way from time to time.

The General has delivered a stirring speech in which he has said that Jonathan has nothing to fear from him. So can all those angry and anxious brethren of mine who are convinced that “we” will be victimised by Northerners henceforth please start to believe that Buhari is not planning to humiliate and destroy us?

Can we stop interpreting everything in purely tribal or regional terms and help the incoming Head of State transform this country into a place we can all enjoy?

Yes, South-South is about to lose its precious first-ever President. And I get the symbolic significance of this loss…and its emotional impact. But we can also gain prosperity, progress and pride from leaders who are from elsewhere.


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