The build up to the 2015 presidential election was akin to that of a nation preparing for war. The two main political parties threw in everything into the battle; name calling, character assassination, loads of criticism, most of which were completely unnecessary. Tension was high and it was obvious that the country was sitting on a keg of gun powder that needed just little nudge for a cataclysmic explosion. The prediction that heavens would fall during and after the election was looking like a Nostradamus forecast. Some even said that it would signal the end of Nigeria. Yes, both sides beat the drums of war. Yes, both sides called out their strong men and asked them to go for broke. Unfortunately, some persons danced to the drums of war and tension and violence gripped the nation by the jugular. In some locations, heads were broken, limbs were shattered, guns boomed and people died, including innocent bystanders. And the fear was that if the situation was that bad then what would happen during and after the election? Were these wars in the name of election about the greater good of the Nigerian nation or personal aggrandisement and positioning to get a bigger cut of the National cake?
The election of Saturday March 28 held and the results began to trickle in. And the social media heightened the tension as both sides began to claim victory and call their forces to war. Exodus began in different parts of the country as people felt they were no longer safe in places outside those of their ethnic origin. Then before our very eyes at the National Collation Centre, a drama that could have plunged the country into chaos began to play out on Tuesday March 30. One of the officers of a party seized the podium to reject and try to abort or stop the democratic process. An action the late M.K.O Abiola would have described as trying to abort the pregnancy of a baby that was already born. Tension gripped the land as many watched the macabre drama on live television. Many hearts skipped a beat. Offices in different parts of the country began to shut down and a number of people voted with their legs. The country was on the edge. Everybody including the international community was expecting the worst explosion.
Then enter President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. With a phone call to candidate Muhammad Buhari conceding victory the tension was diffused. By not following the path of the hawks that championed, canvased and worked behind the scene and openly for the ‘Orubebelisation’ (cancellation) of the electoral process, Mr. President deserves the appreciation of Nigerians. By conceding defeat and congratulating the winner, General Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. President has shown that he is a patriot who has lived up to his claim that the ambition of being president is not worth the blood of any Nigeria. Thank you, Mr. President, for steering Nigeria away from the precipice and refusing to follow the inglorious path of Laurent Gbagbo who plunged Cote D’ivoire into avoidable crisis that led to thousands of death and carnage of unimaginable proportion. Mr. President, your decision to ensure the full ‘Jegalisation’ (sanctity) of the process and rejection of ‘Orubebelisation’ in its entirety has become a major milestone in our history. You are truly a Grand Commander of the Federal Republic and a Defender of Democracy. Let us nominate and welcome our dear President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan into the league of respected statesmen.
Thankfully, the action of Jonathan struck the right chord with the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari. Hear him, “President Goodluck Jonathan is a great Nigerian. He deserves our respect. This is how a decent nation treats those who have served it. At exactly 5:15pm (on (Tuesday, March 31,) he called to congratulate me on my victory. For this I want all Nigerians to join me in congratulating and appreciating Mr. President for his statesmanship. I extend my hand of fellowship to him. I look forward to meeting him soon as we plan the transition from one administration to another. He will receive nothing but understanding, cooperation and respect from me and my team.” This is very elevating and synchronises with the intent of the Election peace building Committee, headed by another great Nigerian, General Abdulsam Abubakar. Thereafter the tension died. The elements knew too. The salubrious air from the open environment gushing with refreshing verve and caressing and soothing the body, accentuating the joy of the old and young was clearly discernible all over the country. The environment too is leaping for joy, joining the people of Nigeria to praise our God for the Great Things He Has Done for our land.
However it would appear some Nigerians, especially supporters of both men don’t want the war to end. They have continued the war songs. And some have stepped up the campaign to denigrate the person of the outgoing president thereby raising tension in the land. Of course we must speak truth to power. By all means we must criticise our leaders and point out their frailties, foibles and what they have done and are doing wrong. But when we begin to mock, debase, disrespect, abuse humiliate and denigrate them with our words in the name of criticism and expressing our opinion it smacks of malice. I think some persons are going overboard in their criticisms of the outgoing leader. As the incoming leader has affirmed, he deserves to be shown respect as the man who currently occupies the number one position in our land. We should start winding down on politics and begin to focus on how to guide the incoming order. What is clear is that the last act of Jonathan has won a lot of admiration for our country in the international arena. He has saved our country from a potentially debilitating politically induced self-immolation. He has given a refreshing fillip to our democracy. This is an imperishable legacy. If you think the concession of Jonathan is nothing, go and ask them in Kenya and Cote D’ivoire where Uhuru Kenyatta and Laurent Gbagbo refused the results of presidential elections some years back. Thousands were massacred and the scars of the political war are still hunting and hurting both countries.
Apart from the different political platforms, there are no fundamental disagreements among the Nigerian ruling elite and class. The key supporters who made the Buhari project to gain ground and eventually succeed were formally on the other side. It can be argued that they left the camp of Mr. President not mainly for altruistic and patriotic reasons but for personal ambitions and in order to get a bigger pie. Even the bitter feud over the 2015 elections will soon be over among the political class. I strongly believe that the difference between politicians in both main parties is that between six and half-a-dozen. Therefore, no sane Nigerian should go to war over their choices. What is going on is a power game and contest for power among members of the same political and ruling elite.
Nigerians should note that Power is Transient. There is life after this election and Nigeria is bigger than all of us; without Nigeria, there will be no PDP or APC. It is also clear that History is recording the utterances, actions and inactions of all the main dramatis personae in the unfolding electoral drama. If you win today, a time will come when you will have to vacate the seat. Generations unborn will read of your heroism and infamy as the case may be. Nobody wins in a war involving brothers and kith and kin, therefore let us stop fanning the embers of war.
For friends and acquaintances who have turned this election into a war of words, its time for ceasefire. For pundits and politicians and hack writers who are misleading the people and churning out lies and half-truths, please change course. For those who have vowed to cause chaos and mayhem if this election does not go their way, kindly have a rethink. Let us disappoint the prophets of doom and the enemies of Nigeria who have predicted that this election will lead to war.
In the Presidential election, it is not a victory for candidate Buhari, neither is it a defeat for candidate Jonathan. It is simply a victory for Nigeria and its democracy.
Sai Jonathan, Sai Buhari, Sai Jega, Sai Democracy, Sai Nigeria.
Citizen Adegbenro Adebanjo sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org.