The news of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan conceding defeat in this keenly contested Nigeria Presidential election brought the supporters of the APC presidential candidate of the northern Nigerian cities and the commercial capital of Nigeria in Lagos to the street to jubilation.
While we congratulate the President elect Major General Muhammadu Buhari for a clear victory for the APC (All Progressive Congress) party and for being fourth time lucky due to his personal resilience and determination; we whole heartedly thank President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for keeping to his promise of a free and fair elections; more importantly for creating an enabling environment for the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free and fair elections without the interference of the government of the day unlike in previous elections.
The present government provided adequate funds and support for recruitment of more staff and the purchase of election materials including the personal voters’ card (PVC) electronic equipment and totally made INEC independent as it should be. While he was pressured to terminate the appointment of the Chairman of INEC Professor Attahiru Jega before the elections by asking him to go on terminal leave prior to the elections, he refused to buckle to the pressure his party associates.
Goodluck Jonathan did not only concede defeat but congratulated his opponent in the APC. This has never happened in Nigerian politics or even in African democracy. By this singular act, President Jonathan has placed his name in the history books and the annals of statesmanship globally. This action elevated him from the common everyday politician to a statesman who wishes for what is best for his country Nigeria.
We hope that what Jonathan has started in Nigerian politics by being an honourable loser will endure for the benefit of the political growth of Nigeria and Africa. This is the 8th time in the history of elections in Africa where there has been peaceful change of government and the 7th time where the opposition party has defeated an incumbent government but the first time an incumbent has conceded defeat and also congratulated his opponent.
African Leaders are usually sit-tight leaders and others try to make new laws to change the national constitution for a third term as happened during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure of office here in Nigeria.
The preceding years to what happened on the 31st of March 2015 when President Jonathan conceded leaves so much to be desired in political campaigning in Africa or in anywhere in the world.
The smear campaign and violence was deplorable, unprecedented and the heating of the political situation in the country were all uncalled for. Politics can be without bitterness if those playing the politics can absorb themselves of bitterness and steer their supporters away from violence, smear campaign and thuggery.
It should be on recorded the number of Nigerians that relocated away from the major northern cities like Kano, Kaduna, Zaria, Minna, Katsina and even the Federal Capital territory of Abuja for fear of violence and destruction of life and property. Due to intimidation of fellow Nigerians by fellow Nigerians of Northern extraction the massive relocation of Southern Nigerians to their home base was like just prior to the Biafra war. By this relocation away from where they registered to vote; they were therefore disenfranchised and this fear for life and destruction of property prior to election should be tackled by the in-coming government and completely abrogated in subsequent elections if we have to have a united and progressive One Nigeria. Appropriate measures should be put in place to reassure Nigerians whose abode is away from their state of origin to allay their anxiety so that they can take part in the election process.
The President-elect Major General Muhammadu Buhari should ensure in his utterances, body language and actions that this fear for life and property of Southerners living in the North does not re-occur in subsequent Nigerian elections under his watch. Action or utterances that will necessitate massive relocation of Nigerians for fear of post-election violence in Nigeria should be a thing of the past in a united One Nigeria.
The President elect should show the olive branch and be a truly Nigerian President for ALL Nigerians, all political parties including the defeated PDP and ALL Nigerians in spite of differences in culture and tradition, religious worship and ethnicity. He should do his best under the prevailing economic situation in Nigeria with a devalued and weakened Naira due to low price for a barrel of oil by blocking all the loop holes that leads to haemorrhaging the Nigerian economy. He should completely curb oil theft in the Niger Delta and reduce Nigeria loses of crude oil to theft that runs into millions of barrels on a daily basis.
In addition to ridding the country of terrorism and the Islamic fundamentalist boko haram, provision of regular electricity, good education, affordable healthcare, security of life and property; he should ensure the current poor distribution of oil blocks to a few Nigerians where the over 170 million Nigerians live on less than one dollar a day is quickly revisited. We have on good record that in spite of General Muhammadu Buhari being the Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources and Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund, he has no oil block. His job of ridding Nigeria of massive corruption should start from recovering the oil blocks from these individual and nationalising them for the benefit of all Nigerians. Resources that will accrue from this action will help improve the living standard of the average Nigerian and increase the average life span of Nigerians from what it is today of less than 56 years to over 80 years as in developed countries. By this singular act General Buhari would place himself as the saviour of Nigerian masses.
He should work hard to integrate Nigerians in all works of life, Nigerians of all ethnicity and religious dispensation or in due course what created his success today will also create another Nigerian’s success in subsequent elections if he develops tunnel vision and action whilst in office.
The implementation of the outcome of the Nigerian National Assembly should be done during the tenure of office of the in-coming government so as to give Nigeria a new lease of life for a truly united nation with Nigerians having a sense of belonging. Nigerians voted overwhelmingly for General Buhari to win with over two million votes to his nearest competitor so he is truly a Nigerian President because of a proper Nigerian mandate, but the observed free thumb printing of ballot papers on You-tube on the internet should not be allowed in subsequent elections so that rigging is completely wiped out in our body politics.
Nigeria has so much potential which should be harnessed for the common good of all her citizenry. The best of Nigeria should run the country for the benefit of all Nigerian weather they voted or not for the ruling party.
Finally, one has to congratulate Nigeria and Nigerians for maintaining Peace during and after the elections and the role of General Abubakar Abudusallami Chairman National Peace Committee for 2015 elections, working tirelessly for Peace during the tense moments while INEC was collating the results. The international community really forecasted doom for the nation after the elections but Nigerians jubilated instead of killing and maiming innocent one another. They did not allow the predictions of the doomsayers to manifest.
This celebrated after election PEACE and tranquillity we have all enjoyed was due to a single phone call by the incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to the President-elect congratulating him and the President’s subsequent appeal for calm and non-violence for all his supporters.
Nigeria has passed another test and has moved from being the biggest economy on the African continent to being the Biggest Democracy on the African Continent. This is truly a New, Indivisible, and Peaceful One Nigeria. We pray and hope for this progressive match to continue and in due course Nigeria will take her place amongst the industrialised and peaceful nations of the world.
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dr Steve E O Ogbonmwan FMCOG(Nig), FRCOG(UK), KSC.