Nigeria’s Historic Election of March 28, 2015: Prelude to Nigeria’s Readiness to Take Back Continental Leadershipof Africa, Setting Democratic Examples - Part 2 of 2

Out-Going President Jonathan Exhibits Statesmanlike Leadership Characters Worthy of Emulation by Other African Leaders - both Current and future!

In Part one of this article, we saw that on March 28, 2015, the aftermath of Nigeria’s presidential election read the following results from the INEC’s powerful office: “The envelope please! Friends, Nigerians, people of the world, Ladies and gentlemen, the people of the Commonwealth States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have spoken, loud and clear!”Also we noted that steady and slowly in the last 16 years, Nigeria has continued to lay the foundations necessary for real and effective democracy to finally germinate, take root, grow and lead to fruition (much as in all other old democracies of the world, Britain, France, America, Canada, much of Europe etc.) That foundation that Nigeria has been steadily laying on the continent of Africa and for all other African Nations to copy and emulate is the transfer of power in 1999 from the military to civilians and the conduct of national and state and local level elections under the “best “democratic processes and practices prevalent at the time, handing over power to the next or incoming administration or candidate, albeit smoothly or otherwise but nonetheless, steadily! It not just the pursuit of democratic change of governance, Nigeria has equally advanced in 16 in the art of legislative and senatorial making and passing o relevant laws, arguing cases among elected colleagues, agreeing to disagree and also agree in the process and bringing those laws into effect in the rural communities where they are needed.

In part one of thesearticles we noted that the most important aftermath of the election was not that the opposition challenger, Muhammadu Buhari won the election as he defeated President Jonathan. The author posited that rather what was the most important outcome as the aftermath actions taken by the defeated President, Jonathan afterwards - marked by the outgoing President’s concession statements! I have dubbed President Jonathan’s wordsof concession statement as the 333-golden-words that changed the cause of democracy to the better in the entire African Continent. And perhaps, just perhaps, these 333 words may have been the only most important reason God Almighty (Allah) decided to choose Jonathan to be the President of Nigeria at the time He did so.

Narrowing the golden words in part, of the 333 words of President Jonathan that changed the course democracy in Africa, 103 of them are the most pertinent that advanced the course of the democratic process as it is obtained in older democratic nations such as Greece, Italy, Britain, France, Belgium, most other Western European nations, the United States and Canada to mention but these. It is with time that Nigerians will come to realize what President Jonathan injected into the Nigerian body politic and that of Mother Africa, should the present dispensation as obtained in Nigeria continue, and expand to all other African nations. Those 103 golden words are:

I promised the country free and fair elections. I have kept my word. I have also expanded the space for Nigerians to participate in the democratic process. That is one legacy I will like to see endure…As I have always affirmed, nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. The unity, stability and progress of our dear country [, Nigeria,] is more important than anything else….I congratulate all Nigerians for successfully going through the process of the March 28th General Elections with the commendable enthusiasm and commitment that was demonstrated nationwide…I have conveyed my personal best wishes to General Muhammadu Buhari.

By taken these statesmanlike democratic steps to honor the wishes of the people and bowing out to let the incoming president-elect and his administration follow the natural course of democracy, out-going President Goodluck Jonathan, either advertently or inadvertently placed Nigeria back on the most critical verge, if not at the helm of once again, providing not only territorial but continental democratic leadership of African nations. An envious position that she left right about 1966 when she imploded and devolved into the unfortunate civil war!

Though his administration and government may have been steeped in ineptitude leadership of the worst type and checkered with the height of inordinate corruption however; in bowing out a statesman, Goodluck retained his dignity and integrity and sowed an exemplary democratic seed for current and future politicians to emulate. By his emergent model democratic actions not to contest the results of the election widely believed to have been rigged by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in favor of Buhari by at least about 10 million voters - supporter of Jonathan in mostly Northern Nigeria and elsewhere, who were disenfranchised from voting by lack of the provision of PVC’s, and his state manly and on learning the results of the election, immediately placing a call to the winner and opposition candidate, President-elect Buhari, Jonathan invariably placed his name above any known politician in Nigeria, past or present! Invariably and inadvertently, by accepting the results of the election “as is” and not contesting it, Good luck not only saved the lives of untold number of Nigerians, but stopped Nigeria from moving backward - a known fact she was prone to after every election - when time was spent to reconcile those aggrieved and those families who lost the lives of loved ones. Instead, the incoming President-elect, Buhari will now use that segment of time that would have been devoted to national reconciliation to move the Nation forward.

Jonathan’s statesman-like leadership action is what is lacking in Nigeria’s democratic processes and in the entire African democratic practices. Only if current and future African leaders can emulate these seeds of practicable, effective and progressive democracy sown today by His Excellency, out-going President Jonathan, then African democracy would have found the root it has ever lacked and the missing link needed to sustain the complex, yet simple democratic process and practice. Not farfetched, a few years ago, the foremost African leader who actually set the stage rolling for true democracy to rein was none other than the Father of Modern South Africa’s democracy, the late Nelson Mandela, who at the end of his five-year-term, graciously and statesman-like, bowed out and passed the torch of leadership to Thabo Mbeki, his successor. As Mandela led the African National Congress (ANC) in 1994 to victory and was elected and became South Africa's first black president, he promised to vacate off at the end of his first term! He kept his promise - democratic principle that he honored!! He was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki who went on to lead South Africa for two terms (1999-2008) when he resigned after an accusation of impropriety of meddling and interfering in the South Africa‘s National Executive Committee of the ANC’s prosecution of Jacob Zuma accused of corruption. Though South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal overturned Mbeki’s conviction by Judge C. R. Nicholson of improper interference, Mbeki swore to honor his reanimation - Pure Statesman like democratic action!

These exemplary democratic actions and practices adopted and shown by these three statesmen, first by President Nelson Mandela, next by South Africa’s second black President, Thabo Mbeki and now the out-going Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan should be democratic epiphany, the modality, and measuring rod all other African nations and their leaders should strive to emulate in order to truly sustain democracy. Democracy and its practices and procedures are sustained and inured to by the people when election are properly conducted on the platforms the voting booth, secret ballots, and on the principle of one-citizen-one-vote. Democracy is sustained when the winner takes office and carries out the democratic laws of the land and when the people find reason to remove the incumbent from office after another election, (or by impeachment), the defeated or impeached incumbent gracefully bows out of office as done by President Jonathan after the groundbreaking election of March 28, 2015.

Here are the questions and challenge to African Nations’ current and future leaders.To help sustain democracy in the African continent, starting with your own country can you replicate or simply put repeat what Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan did after the historic groundbreaking election of March 28, 2015 by gracefully and states manly bowing out of office after the people have spoken and you were not elected? Can you do what South Africa’s first black President; Nelson Mandela did, leaving office on his own accord after the first term in office? Can you follow the lead of the second black President, Thabo Mbeki, who after being accused of impropriety, (an impropriety he was later exonerated from I might add) saved his dignity and integrity by resigning the lofty and high officer of the President to South Africa? Can you do that when the people have spoken! Can you resolve today as did these three statesmen to quit office when either the people demands that you do so or when circumstances tending toward compromising your dignity and integrity rears up in the course of your presidency? Or can you resolve like Mandela did ab initio - ever before he assumed office to only run and lead for one full term in office, can you do that?

Alternatively or would you rather be the clog on the sustainability of democratic principles and practices in Africa and on the pretext of the people loves stays in office for more than 36 years as did President Teodoro Obiang Nguemaof Equatorial Guinea (1979- to present)..? Or would you like to copycat Angola’s “quiet dictator,” President Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola of more than 36 years in office (1979-present)? What about the 36 years of the legacy of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (February 1980 till present)? Or perhaps you would decide to aid and sustain democracy by replicating the opulent life styles the likes of Cameroon’s Paul Biya of more than 33 years in office (1982 to present) and spending $1.2 million in three-week vacation, using a state paid chartered plan for a 3-week vacation in France and rented 43 luxury hotel rooms for his entourage? Or of the scandal that followed him and one of his entourage who in September 2008 of the United Nations General Assembly in Geneva tried to escape Biya’s hotel with the sum of $6.8 million US dollars- cash - the people’s money and yet never prosecuted? Or would African nations sustain democracy by following the most current example of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni who is the shortest in duration (30 years in office from January 1986 to present) among the longest serving African Presidents?

Currently, the above historical analysis is a typical example of the political dispensation in contemporary Africa and what not to be allowed to happen in order to sustain democracy. Democracy co-mingled with dictatorship, heavy handedness, corruption, governmental crimes of all sorts is not democracy at all. Democracy is either allowed a free hand to operate along its natural course or not at all. The natural course for democracy to operate, sprouts, and be sustained to borrow a green leaf from Nigeria’s recently concluded Presidential election of March 28, 2015. On this day, it was a historically ground breaking event never before seen or witnessed in contemporary black African continent.

On this day, the people of the Commonwealth States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria went out and exercised their democratic constitutional rights and obligations. The people needed change, sought for change, the opportunity came, and using the all-important avenues of the secret ballot booths, exercised their constitutional civic responsibilities, voted for change and spoke loud and clear. In hearkening to the peoples’ needs and desires, the incumbent President, preserving his good name, fame, honor, integrity and dignity, in a statesman-like democratic move, answered and granted the wishes of the people, concededdefeat andimmediately turned around, acknowledge what the people did, congratulated the people for honoring the democratic processes and as well turned around and congratulated and pledged his loyalty to the victor, the opposition candidate and President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari. The call is now placed to all Nigerian and African political leaders to always look back to the modality set by Mandela, Mbeki and Jonathan when the people have spoken.And so it would appear tenable to infer here that if this present political and democratic dispensation is sustained in the next four years and a repeat of March 28, 2015 is witnessed in Nigeria’s electoral processes and practices, then it leaves room for one to gingerly prod the conclusion that Nigeria has finally arrived at the cusp of taking back the leadership of the African Consentient that has eluded her since the events of 1966. In closing and in the words of President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari, We thank President Goodluck Jonathan for[furthering the course of democracy by] being a gracious contestant and accepting the decision of the Nigerian people,” Muhammadu Buhari.

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Articles by Onyema Nkwocha, Dr.