PRESIDENTIAL POLL: A POST-MORTEM
With the successful conduct of the parliamentary and presidential polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has aptly demonstrated that it can truly conduct credible elections if given the chance to do so.
We commend the chairman of the commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, for his performance so far. It is good that President Goodluck Jonathan kept his promise not to interfere in the electoral process. His was a clear departure from the past where underhand tactics were freely deployed.
As predicted by analysts, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the presidential poll convincingly having polled 22,495,187 votes or 58.8 percent to beat his closest rival, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who garnered 12,214,853 votes or 31.98 percent and came second. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) got 2,079,151 votes or 5.4 percent and placed third while Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) got 917,012 votes or 2.4 percent to emerge fourth.
Jonathan won 25 per cent of votes cast in 31 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), while Buhari had 25 per cent in 16 states and the FCT. Ribadu had a quarter of votes cast in four states, while Shekarau and the other presidential candidates did not get up to 25 per cent in any state.
Jega and INEC have delivered and Nigeria now has a president-elect, who will be sworn in on May 29 for a 4-year term. Jonathan's victory cuts across political, ethnic and religious divides in the country. He won a quarter of votes in states from all the geo-political zones of the country. Therefore, he was elected by all Nigerians, and should rightly see himself as president of all. Jonathan should, therefore, demonstrate that he has what it takes to rule the country.
Nigerians have shown that Jonathan is the one they can trust. Let him justify the confidence reposed in him. In all, this is one time Nigerians have truly chosen their leader. Jonathan should ensure that his administration positively impacts on the lives of all Nigerians. He should ensure that development gets to all parts of the country.
No doubt, the votes of Nigerians counted in the election. But, they will count more if Jonathan readily attends to the myriad of problems troubling the nation. The president should immediately after swearing in swing into action because the problems are many but not insurmountable. Since Nigerians believe that Jonathan can deliver, he should ensure that his election promises are fulfilled. One of the primary problems the president has to tackle is the issue of power. Nigerians believe that once the power sector is fixed, all others will fall in line.
Truly, his victory carries a lot of challenges. He should strive to live up to the expectations of all Nigerians by keeping all his election promises. The outcome of the two elections holds a lot of promise for deepening democracy in Nigeria. Both local and international observers lauded the exercise.
Therefore, the post-election violence witnessed in some states in the North is regrettable and condemnable.
We appeal for calm and call on all the aggrieved parties to seek redress for their grievances at the election tribunals. Wanton killings and destruction of property should not be deployed to achieve such aims. Interestingly, leaders of some political parties in the North have dissociated themselves and their supporters from the fracas. More needs to be done by security agents to put an end to the violence.
Jonathan had the most robust campaign among all the presidential candidates. His success at the poll is not surprising at all. Admitted that there might be some lapses during the exercise as all elections are prone to, it was largely a fair contest, whose outcome should not lead to bloodshed.
All the same, we call on Jonathan to extend an olive branch to the losers so that they all can join hands to move the nation forward. A country can only have a president at a time. Since Nigerians have chosen one with their votes on April 16, let the losers wait for another opportunity in 2015.
Opinion leaders and politicians in the country should educate their followers on the rules and regulations of elections, and advise them to eschew violence.
The two previous elections revealed some anomalies. Let INEC avoid identified lapses in the next election. The number of voided votes in the presidential poll is also huge. There is need for mass voter education in the country to avoid such waste. Also, there is the need to urgently prune down the number of political parties in the country for ease of logistics during elections.