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Nigeria’s election: lesson for others

Apr 2, 2015, 10:39 AM

The result of the Nigeria’s presidential election in which Muhammadu Buhari (with 15.4 million votes) defeated the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan (with 13.3 million votes) is not only history for Nigeria, but also a lesson for other African countries.

We would like to first of all congratulate both Buhari and Jonathan for exercising maturity before, during and after the polls, for they could have fuelled violence through their words or deeds which would have further destabilise Africa’s most populous nation.

We heartily congratulate Buhari for not only winning the election, but also for being the first opposition candidate to defeat the incumbent in a democratic election in Nigeria’s history.

The result of the election is good lesson for the incumbent and opposition parties in Africa.The entire process of the Nigeria’s election was relatively chaos-free unlike other African countries, where presidential elections are viewed as a matter of life and death.

We have seen what happened in Ivory Coast in 2010 when Laurent Gbagbo decided to hang on after a second-round loss to Alassane Ouattara.The country descended into civil war. At least 3,000 people were killed in that crisis.

African leaders should learn that hanging onto power when the electorate have lost faith in them is injurious to the interests of the country.

Jonathan is a hero for not having used incumbency to precipitate a bloodbath after losing the elections.This is worth emulating.

Another tactic that Goodluck could have used to avert his ‘badluck’, being the incumbent, was to rig the election.He had the means as the president of the biggest economy in Africa and one of the world’s leading oil producers, to rig the election, but he did not.He kept his promise of free and fair elections.

We need to break the grip of rigging elections and respect the people’s will.

One of the most important lessons to be drawn from the Nigeria elections is the fact that individualism, and fragmented small parties would find it very difficult to unseat an incumbent.

The best and surest way to unseat an incumbent is through unity and alliance among opposition parties. It has always taken that trend to unseat a ruling party.

This is what the Nigerian opposition parties were cognizant of, and they decided to rally around General Buhari, which has yielded much fruit for them, a result of which the whole world is witnessing now.

In short, there is plenty for us to learn from Africa’s most populous nation, the continent’s largest economy, especially on conducting free and fair elections leading to ousting of the ruling party from power.

“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.”