Nigerians went to the polls last Saturday in what unarguably was the most hotly contested election in the country’s history. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; the umpire charged with ensuring its smooth conduct told the world it was ready; the security agencies saddled with the onerous task of providing security assured the exercise will be peaceful. Expectedly, Nigerians trooped out in their millions to cast their votes.
But there were disturbing realities that the road ahead will be very challenging. The polity was mindlessly heated up as politicians staked their claims to power. In this quest for control over the country’s destiny, neither incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan nor his opposition challenger, retired General Muhammad Buhari has demonstrated the need to keep Nigeria one. However, we are not lost to the fact that not a few Nigerians were on edge while the campaigns were on and the polity heated up.
Those were the days when anxiety gripped the nation and many Nigerians relocated their families to their villages of origin out of a palpable sense of fear that violence was inevitable. After all, there were hues and cries over the poor distribution of Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs. Also, advocates of election shift had cited the prevailing insecurity in the North-East states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe and succeeded in pressuring the electoral umpire to fix new dates. Interestingly, INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, admitted that with the new dates, INEC stood a better chance of fine-tuning some of its processes.
With the conclusion of the presidential elections and attendant release of results piecemeal by INEC, we urge fellow countrymen to put the March 28, 2015 polls behind them and move with nation-building from everyone’s small corner of service.
In other words, we call on all winners at the House of Representatives and Senate polls as well as the presidential election to underscore the fact that the days of divisive campaigns are over. The task at hand must be in tandem with the Three Rs of the defunct General Yakubu Gowon’s military regime when at the end of the Nigerian civil war, he declared the season of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. That philosophy was to guide his regime in making the supposed victor and vanquished to work together for the general good and development of Nigeria much later.
Though we will not sweep under the carpet the sad and lamentable episodes of politicians resorting to primitive bullying and patently illegal tactics to win votes, as at this stage of Nigeria’s political development that elections require nobility and decency, we must state that all those, alongside several other factors that played out at the presidential poll nationwide especially, must be identified and used by INEC and the political parties as guides to organising better elections in the near future.
As the nation prepares for another administration come May 29, 2015, we hasten to let every stakeholder in Project Nigeria in on one grand desire on all. And that is, Nigeria must remain one indivisible united and progressive nation where the full benefits of democracy thrive, even as all are challenged to contribute to national development. This country must not breakup.