So, my country has concluded its much anticipated elections- hopefully, there’ll be no rerun. Now, our lives will be restored to default settings. The past few months have seen our radios & TVs taken over by campaign jingles & political talks, the social media was on lockdown for campaign (the effectiveness of the social media in determining the electoral activities should be studied)- hashtags were a normal feature on Twitter. In fact, discussions followed the route of politics. Every action of the government was seen through the prism of currying favour from the electorates. Our national life was conditioned in a particular way.
The campaign period highlighted some factors that were absent in previous electoral campaigns. Even before the elections, the use of card readers and PVCs by the electoral umpire (which was a first actually) had caused the heating up of the polity. Concerns were raised on the feasibility and reliability of its use. Also, the campaigns for this election made optimal use of the social media. With the youth comprising the highest number of voters and many of them on the social media, it was commonsense that discourse on these platforms would be political. Twitter was the hardest hit. Hashtags sought to outdo one another. The election really showed the true colours of some. Some turned erstwhile friends to foes and some bridges were burnt. Also, a factor that contributed to the loss of GEJ at the polls stems from the acts of those whose duty it was to make friends for him making enemies instead *side eye to Omokri, Okupe & FFK*.
Like I discussed here, the campaigns were about mudslinging than issues.
A casualty of this campaign was debate. In a society like ours where electoral choices are coloured by emotions, debates could only be of little significance. Interestingly, the candidates who dodge debates have always gone ahead to win the election -2003, 2007, 2011 & 2015. The elections also tested how unified we are as a nation. Many people saw the election as one between the South and North. Some saw it as an election between Christians and Muslims. The First Lady didn’t help matters as she disparaged the Northern part of the country. The Vice President, Namadi Sambo also referred to APC as a christian-dominated-party. The voting patterns also reflected this. Except that of the South West. There are positives though (even from the voting patterns). A christian candidate won in Niger state, a state dominated by Muslims. Also, an Igbo man won a seat in the House of Representatives in Lagos, a Yoruba land. The gubernatorial election in Lagos also caused some ripples.
The utterances by the Oba to drown non-indigenes who do not vote for his candidate and the obvious ethnic-based campaign undertaken by the PDP are the major highlights.
Now that the campaign grounds are empty and ballot boxes returned to the stores, the incoming administration has to hit the ground running. There’s plenty of work to be done. The expectations are high; thus, there’s no room for disappointment. This election is a special one in the sense that it’s the first time since our return to civil rule that the incumbent would be defeated at the federal level. APC, a conglomerate of opposition parties, now has the majority seats in the legislature, controls the executive arm and controls the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. Now, this is a kinda holistic approach to governance. The new government needs to arrange a team of world-beaters with a sense of duty and patriotism. That’s the first step to a working Nigeria. With a new party at the helm, Nigerians hope to see a different approach to issues. All the campaign promises and party manifesto need to be lived up to. We really need some catching up to do. In the 21st century, there’s no excuse for a developing nation to still be grappling with electricity generation and distribution.
The issue of electricity is one that cuts across all political, tribal and economic divides. Tackle this and many things will fall in place. It’s like a domino. One issue that contributed to PDP’s loss at the polls is the handling of the nation’s security vis-à-vis insurgency. One of the main goals of government is provision of security. Failure in this will consume the successes recorded in other sectors. People need to feel safe. In fact, it’s second on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Thus, the incoming government should know its importance.
The economy, the other half of the goals of government needs a serious attention. The outgoing government prided on Nigeria being the biggest economy on the continent. The irony is that many citizens disagree with that. The claim is seen as a paper tiger achievement. Only a few benefit from the economy. Thus, the new government has to formulate policies that affect the majority positively.
Many people believe that the welfarist inclination of Buhari will ensure this. Well, there’s only one way to find out.
Conclusively, the major beneficiary of this election results is the Nigerian people. Many now have a renewed confidence in the power of the ballot. They believe they now have a say in who leads them. Whether change or continuity, elected officials now know they have to earn their position. Though there is still plenty room for improvement, the umpire, INEC, under Prof Attahiru Jega deserve some praise. Except for some skirmishes in some states, the election was adjudged free and credible. If the new government also messes up, the proverbial cane used on the iyale is lying patiently in the ceiling.
Photo credits: TwitterNG