For a nation in multiple crises, today’s presidential and national assembly elections offer yet another opportunity for a new and promising start – a chance to begin again even more intelligently.
Indeed, an exercise like this year’s general election often re-establishes the place of Nigeria, both on the continent and the world stage. In spite of her palpable inadequacies, that Nigeria remains the ‘Giant of Africa’ has never been contested.
It is no wonder, that the world, as much as the people of Nigeria, is on tenterhooks as the most populous black nation elects a new president today, Saturday, February 25, and members of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
From the United States to the United Kingdom, Canada, France and the rest of Europe, the message has remained one: a peaceful, credible, free and free election is all that they’d love to see Nigeria bequeath on her democracy and further flaunt to the observing world.
Some of these friends of Nigeria had even taken steps further to threaten visa ban on anyone, who violates the nation’s Electoral Act or causes violence that could undermine the credibility of the exercise. Above all, they’d appealed to the actors to, in the spirit of sportsmanship, accept results of the election in good faith.
It is trite to say, also, that the interest of the rest of the world in the nation’s general election, might have been bolstered by the stance of President Muhammadu Buhari, who seems determined to leave behind a legacy of credible electoral system.
The president has also taken this rather popular position at the detriment of many interests and in spite of what his party, the APC thinks. Loathe or revile him, the credibility of this election is the one thing Buhari is taking with him to his hometown in Daura, Katsina State, after May 29, 2023, when a new president assumes office.
Eighteen political parties, according to INEC’s record, are fielding candidates for today’s presidential election, but only four had since the start of campaigns on September 28, 2022, dominated the turf. Not even the squealing of the 14 others could turn the tide.
But what is generally considered a four-horse race is being seen in many other quarters as a straight fight between the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and his arch rival, Atiku Abubakar of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Not unexpectedly, that is a narrative that neither the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi nor his New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) counterpart, Rabiu Kwankwaso, would like to entertain. It further underscores why the four candidates nurse the hope that they each stand a good chance to win the election, and had carried on in that fit.
At the end of the day, regardless of whatever they each think of their chances, as well as their supporters and parties, it remains an election – a mere democratic contest – from which a winner will emerge and the rest would have to go and queue for another four years. It is important, therefore, to understand this is not a war situation and that life goes on afterwards.
Taken together, to vote in today’s election is a civic responsibility that is intended to move the nation forward and change her story. On the other hand, not voting is a choice freely given by right. But neither of both should unsettle the process under whatever guise. Go ahead and exercise your franchise.
May the best man emerge in collective interest. Happy Elections!