The 2019 election has come and gone. The last few frenetic weeks of campaign, positive and pernicious propanganda, chest beating and grandstanding, all hitting a climax on the 23rd of February, came to an end when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari as the President-elect for another four years to continue in the reins of power. He polled 15,191,847 votes, winning in 19 of the states, after the result of Rivers state was added. His main challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party scored 10,782, 007 votes and won in 17 states and Abuja. Buhari also satisfied the constitutional requirement of making 25 per cent of the votes cast in 34 states and the FCT. He missed the cut in Enugu and Anambra states. The election may have gone, but the dust is yet to settle. As we take stock of both gains and loss from the sides of winners and losers, saints and sinners, contenders and pretenders, there are facts and figures, and lessons which we may learn from the just concluded presidential and National Assembly polls.
A REFERENDUM OF INTEGRITY VS CORRUPTION
The New York Times report on the election aptly described the election as a referendum on honesty, as voters once again embraced a candidate who held up a broom at rallies, declaring to sweep away the graft that has given the nation a bad reputation worldwide. It is also pertinent to add that, this nation which woefully boasts of a huge deficit in producing leaders that are accountable and honest but morally bankrupt; Buhari have stood head above shoulders against Atiku and his allies who are seen as the opposite of what he represents. This is one mistake PDP made in choosing Atiku whose image before now has been tainted with corrupt practises. They overlooked the factor of presenting a candidate who could match Buhari’s integrity. Regrettably, it came back to haunt them.
ALL HAIL BUHARI, THE KING OF THE NORTH
It is no longer news that any candidate who intends being the president of Nigeria must be able to win states with huge population especially from the core Northern part of Nigeria. From the blast of the whistle, Buhari was obviously the man to beat. From antecedent of previous elections were he had lost, he had impressively garnered at least 12million votes which predominantly are from the Northern part of Nigeria. It was always going to be a Herculean task turning the table owing to his huge cult-like followership. Popularly called ‘Mai Gakiya’, He is seen in the eyes of the Talakawas as ‘one of them’ (the ordinary and down trodden masses), they have always resolved to follow him to whatever end it may be. Not even the ‘Quartet alliance’ of the Kwankwasiya movement, tambuwal, Saraki, and Atiku, (or even the followers of Sheik Gumi) could divide the votes of Buhari. The last time a leader drew such huge followers in the North was the Great Aminu Kano. But today, we can unarguably call Buhari, ‘The Undisputed King of the North’.
VOTERS TUNROUT REMAINS LOW
After much grandstanding and pontificating by political gladiators, one would have expected a large turnout of motivated voters to cast their votes on the D-day. Lamentably, this election has gone down the history books as the lowest turnout ever in 20 years. This is in contrast with the 1999 election which recorded an impressive turnout of 70% voters. If we could recall, despite the Boko Haram onslaught at its peak, the 2015 election still recorded an awe-inspiring turnout of 42% as against the insufficient, 34% turnout in this this election. Be that as it may, the northern part of Nigeria still showed it is the master of the game when it comes to geopolitics and voters turnout. While one may attribute Nnamdi Kanu’s negative influence in the Eastern part of Nigeria, we should not forget that this has been the case in previous election where turnout was still low in that zone. Below, shows the geopolitical zones and how they fared in the elections:
Average Voters Turnout by Geo-Political Zones
North West ~ 44.86%
North East ~ 42.49%
North Central* ~ 36.5%
South West ~ 32.66%
South South ~ 28.94%
South East ~ 24.51%
National Average ~ 34%.
CHEST BEATERS, GRANDSTANDERS, JESTERS AND CLOWNS
The build up to the election brought out the hidden talents of most politicians who you might want to consider square pegs in round holes, given their knack for waxing lyrical, dancing and making jest, to give the electorate the impression they are larger than life which is very typical of Nigerian politicians. When the so called N-APC lead by Saraki decamped to PDP, they claimed they made Buhari and they will unmake him, but like a Tsunami, Saraki and company were swept away in their stronghold and lost even in their own backyard. The rest of the lot like Tambuwal is running helter skelter. Dino who survived the onslaught is more or less an orphan; we may yet haven’t seen the last of his music cum drama he regularly displays, since he still has a date with law enforcement agencies. Fayose on his part, after boasting he’s ‘Peter the Rock’ is in ‘severe pains right now’ as he couldn’t win his state for his party. Baba Iyabo, the Ebora of Owu who specializes in writing letters and prophesying doom on any leader he falls out with, lost his own polling unit not to even mention his state. If there’s one thing we can take from this election is that, these personalities are human after all. They ride on the pulse of the people and claim they have such huge influence on the electorate, yet in reality, they are just as much as they can be, nothing more.
MEN OF GOD OR god OF MEN?
Before the elections, the media space was awash of so called ‘god of men’ who masquerade as men of God to “prophesy” that Buhari will loose and Atiku was the next best thing to happen to Nigeria since Obama ruled America. These men have reduced prophesy to fortune-telling, commercialized religion, corrupted it, and have reduced the church to a shop of “miracles” where faithless and gullible congregants can go shopping for it. They have corrupted religion, and are in no small measure, responsible for the pervasive corruption in society. This reason our society is corrupt as a result of the corrupt brand of Nigeria’s religion which has played its role in no small parts, by deceiving politicians and the electorate by proxy, thus deviating from its spiritual calling. God is watching.
THE THIRD FORCE?
When Obasanjo selfishly took advantage of the political atmosphere and brought up the idea of the third force to wrestle power from PDP/APC, little did we know that it would produce courageous citizens to take up the challenge to run for the number one office in the land. It gave birth to Fela Durotoye, Sowore, Oby Ezekwezili, Kingsley Moghalu and a host of others. Yes the whole lot were pretenders in their own fashion owing to the fact that they know they cannot even win a local government not to mention a state. However, a positive one could draw from it all is that we should not sit idle and allow mediocrities to take the reins while we complain things are getting worse. Although, if they had truly evaluated the political atmosphere, they would have fared much better, on the condition that they pull resources together and started a movement and not a party, sensitize the electorate even before election period (not coming some month before elections as we experienced with Oby or weeks as Chris Okotie did), and run for legislative offices where they can have a huge say to influence and contribute in major economic/political decisions. This would be a spring board to gain the necessary experience to run for the office of the President. In a nutshell, please start small, Presidential election no be beans, stoop low and ye shall conquer. Lesson thoroughly learnt abi?
In conclusion, let us realise that there is no perfect election anywhere in the world. Even in America which prides itself as the image of democracy, is still investigating till date, its last election which was allegedly rigged. Whether we accept the truth or not, both candidates rigged in some particular areas of their stronghold and from all indications, the better candidate outwitted the other. That doesn’t mean the process was totally flawed, it only means that they (the electoral body INEC) can do better. The killings, maiming, bigotry and social media war should cease and let’s move on. Lest we forget the choice words of Bernie Sanders, “Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues.