Sunday, 17 April 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VII - Change!

Board the change wagon

Change! That is what is happening in Nigeria as the results of the Presidential elections begin to take shape before us and we realise that the Nigeria that went into the elections is coming out of it a rather different country.

In the process, we risk the likelihood of not seeing the forest for the trees and the gains made in the march to serious democratic representation in Nigeria would be lost just when it appeared the enthusiasm and mass participation of Nigerians might force as sense of accountability upon the elected.

The conduct of the elections in general appear to be quite free, very fair and might even crest the threshold of credible; there are cynics and curmudgeons who would go to the ends of the earth to seek out the problems and highlight those as the generalised state of affairs.

It was quite irksome that a writer for the Wall Street Journal took that view of things amidst the progress, rather than go on the defensive, we decided he was a distraction on the verge of losing credibility and relevance as an authority on Nigerian affairs.

Losing ground and giving way

The changes happening before our eyes are myriad, buoyed by the experiences of the last weekend’s elections for the legislature, it appears more people came out to vote and there are areas that even had larger numbers of enthusiastic voters ready to vote and protect the exercise of their franchise through the count to the announcements.

The ruling party that seemed to have a solid national footprint before any of the elections is steadily losing ground to other parties, it is still far ahead in the legislature but it would not have carte blanche in the affairs of the nation anymore, it would have to negotiate its way and hopefully, representatives from other parties will resist the urge to carpet-cross allowing for a more vibrant democratic setting.

A smarter democracy

There is an apparent sophistication in the voting pattern of Nigerians where for the legislature, it looked like a 4-party affair, the ruling party still retaining a more national spread but the other parties were consolidating their localities and regions whilst seeking to spread out to other areas – I would expect this to be more obvious in the gubernatorial and state assembly elections in 9 days.

The presidential elections looks more like a 2-party affair with very polarised showings where one party appears to be stronger and very few where they seem to be head-to-head – this reveals a lot about the thinking that presents in the numbers that are coming up – the presidency is hardly a regional thing, it is a Nigerian thing and the incumbents are being given a run for their money.

The godfathers have departed

The other interesting thing is that the expected goal of godfathers to deliver their constituencies is no more a given, prominent candidates are not necessarily wining in their backyards as if the electorate has a mind of its own, it has taken its own destiny in its hands and is charting a course rarely travelled in the Nigerian political landscape.

The old habits of buying off votes were frowned at, some party moneybags got beaten within an inch of their lives, people have decided for them to have a say in how they are governed their vote has to become priceless and untainted with filthy lucre. The politics of the belly is giving way to the politics of determination and it requires no erudite bearing to appreciate that in Nigeria – we imperil ourselves if we consider the illiterate a lesser Nigerian and bereft of ability to make quality decisions.

It was evident that the President chose an obscure governor without a serious political base to be his vice-president and eventual running mate to ensure that he remained the front-runner for his party – this with the seeming demise of the preponderance of godfathers might well mean if the sitting President gets elected the forces that wreaked havoc within his party would have been tamed by drubbing delivered by the electorate.

Seeing their solvers

This election is hardly over by any stretch of the imagination, what is appearing to some as a North-South divide should be seem more as the bridge to unity, the Niger Delta issue which had not gotten adequate attention of the President probably meant the less well-off would choose a different leader from those who are better off and somewhat apathetic to the democratic system – in what would be a self-fulfilling prophecy to those who believe the country is divided, the decision about who eventually wins would be made for them by those who embraced this election season as an opportunity for revolution and change.

Sceptics can be allowed the courage of the convictions and they would also reap the consequences of their decision not to engage as they sat on the fence carping at everything happening with elitist know-all and superiority.

It isn’t over yet

Even the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is rapidly adapting to change, taking lessons from the postponements, the previous elections and soundings from social media to improve on their service; their website [1] has been totally revamped to provide a professional access point for results and activities of the organisation.

A technicality however looms, Section 134 of the Nigerian Constitution [2] prescribes the provision necessary for declaring a president duly elected after elections, it is as inscrutable as it loaded with ambiguity ripe for interpretation that would have lawyers working overtime in the field of advanced political arithmetic.

Over the next few days, we would get a clear picture of who might emerge as president or even the possibility of a run-off election – these are uncharted waters and if dragons be there, they shall be slain.

God Bless Nigeria, change has surely come, it may however not be like what you expected – see the trees, see the forest and be prepared for the wildlife.

Sources

[1] INEC Nigeria Homepage

[2] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: Federal Executive

Previous Reviews

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review I

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review II - New Election Dates

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review III - Who votes on Saturday.

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part I to Voting

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part II - We can

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review V

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VI - Report to Prevent Rigging

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