Home Op-Ed History and Lessons from Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election

History and Lessons from Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election

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History was made on March 30, 2015 with the victory of APC’s presidential candidate and the President-Elect, General Buhari. This is the first time an opposition party is “allowed” to win an election and President Jonathan, the seating president of PDP, which has being leading Nigeria for the past 16 years promptly called General Buhari to congratulate him and also conceded defeat, as reported by BBC. I doff my hat off to these two gentlemen because of the lessons to be learned from their respective actions.

Lessons from the President-Elect, General Buhari

General Buhari has shown remarkable resilience, perseverance, as well as the highest level of industriousness in his quest to serve as a democratically elected president of Nigeria. This year’s contest marks his fourth attempt to win a presidential race, and he has finally won it because of his dogged determination and refusal to give up. By all accounts, the road to Buhari’s presidency has not been easy. He was not lucky to be summoned or chosen to run and he was not anointed for the position; he fought hard for it. In 2003, he lost by over 11 million votes to President Obasanjo, but he was not discouraged. In 2007, he suffered another brutal loss to President Umaru Yar’Adua by winning only 18% of the votes; he refused to quit. Then again in 2011, he took another shellacking from the incumbent President Jonathan, but he remained undaunted. What a determination!

Now, at a retirement age of 72 in this 2015, General Buhari tried for the fourth time and prevailed. If this is not a success story reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln’s feat and resilience, I don’t know what else is. As Nigerians, we should all learn from General Buhari determination to continually fight for what you want as opposed to standing idle waiting for a handout. I am hopeful that the fire burning in GMB’s belly to serve Nigeria as her president will also lead him to do what is in the best interest of the country. At 72 years old, the only thing worth living for is a great legacy that will outlive him. I join President Jonathan and the rest of the Nigerians and the world in congratulating General Buhari in his well-deserved victory as the President-Elect.

Lesson from President Goodluck Jonathan

Like or hate him, President Jonathan harbors two salient beliefs that will forever endear him to many Nigerians:

Belief #1:        “I believe in one man, one vote.” – President Jonathan

Belief #2:        “I do not want to shed any blood or for anyone to shed blood

for me because of a vote.” – President Jonathan

President Jonathan did not only imbibe these beliefs, he lived and practiced them every day. Under his presidency, his ruling party, PDP, lost more election court cases than during the tenures of any of his two PDP predecessors – Obasanjo and Yar’Adua. This was only possible because President Jonathan was never interested in influencing the court system. He simply left the judiciary alone to do their job (this does not mean that the corrupt judges did not have a field day during his tenure). Compared to President Obasanjo’s era, PDP never lost any major court case. OBJ would either impose a national holiday to prevent a crucial court decision or send his infamous EFFC after the plaintiffs.

Regarding his Belief #2, we are yet to experience any inglorious and/or mysterious exit of any of the big name politicians during President Jonathan’s tenure. Someone once said that, “President Jonathan is the only Nigerian President that you can openly insult on Nigerian soil and still go home and sleep with your two eyes closed; then wake up the next day and go about your regular business without any harm. The man cannot and does not hurt a fly.” Compared to President Obasanjo’s era, we are yet to solve the mysteries behind the deaths of so many high profile Nigerian politicians including the former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, and Chief Marshall Harry, the National Vice Chairman of ANPP, who was brutally assassinated in Abuja in 2003.

Finally, the biggest lesson from President Jonathan is that he embodies humility by doing today what over 99% of Africans cannot do – the decision to relinquish power without resorting to violence, power-sharing or suicidal tendencies.  Recall, with the exception of Ghana and Senegal, there has not been any other countries in Africa where an incumbent President willingly gave up power after losing an election to an opposition party. In most cases, opposition parties are never accepted in African continent – they are perceived as radicals and nuisance who do not add any value to the polity. Remember the case of muammar Gaddafi who chose to die after 41 years in office rather than give up power; the case of former President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast who was captured like a rat by the French forces in 2011 for refusing to hand over power when he lost an election after 11 years as the President, and Robert Mugabe at the age of 91 and 28 years as a current serving President, who will rather kill as many of his countrymen as possible than give up power.

President Jonathan has carved his name on the stone for picking up the phone to contact and congratulate General Buhari for winning the Presidential election 2015. He will forever be remembered as the person who advanced Nigerian democracy beyond any other known patriots in the history of our country. Mr. President, I salute you for this singular class act.

Respectfully,

Prince Dr. Chinedu Ikeanyi

Los Angeles, California

TO BE OR NOT TO BE2

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