Sunday 6 May 2007

Nigerian uniqueness or French aberration

New day new man

France wakes up to the dawn of a new era; the son of an immigrant would be the next president, a tough election that saw the end of a generation of grandee politicians for the fresh air of the baby boom generation and the almost happened first female president.

Most of all, French democracy was energized, alive and vibrant with an 85% turnout, only countries with compulsory voting laws can genuinely exceed that number.

Politics afresh

One thing I noticed about these elections was that the electoral commission, if there is any organisation by that name in France was never in the news in terms of readiness, ability or efficiency - it was not even early evening before we knew the results of ballots cast earlier in the day.

As Jacques Chirac goes into retirement after about 5 decades in politics and 12 years of his Presidency, I do not hear that he has muscled his way into trying to head the party/coalition that was formed to re-elect him 5 years ago.

Neither did I hear of him trying to use his clout to affect the choices that the French have to make about who they think should lead them, people who thought they had a vision for France presented themselves having fulfilled certain pre-requisites and the people voted.

Losing gracefully

Once the results were known, the loser conceded defeat gracefully, why? Because the results were the express will of the people; seen to free and known to be fair - if there were any observers it would be to learn how to conduct elections rather than with the view to prevent widespread irregularities.

So, one wonders if there are countries that make use of French expertise in other areas of commerce and development, why they cannot also employ French expertise in reaching the kind of transparent outcome in the exercise of republican democracy.

The French are no different

The French are just as human as you and me, they have not evolved into some extraordinary species, rather, they have shown respect for each other and the will of all ordinary citizens of the republic.

I would suppose one reason to keep Nigerians illiterate is to have politicians herd them like cattle into electoral compromises they would not have taken if they knew better about their rights to vote and have their votes counted and returned correctly in the announced results.

If we had achieved a tenth of what French delivered in their elections in Nigeria, we would probably have the hopes that the French have for the future rather than the fears that stem from an election where the mandate is suspect.

Is there a Nigerian harbouring a secret desire to be French today?

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