Buhari kicks out PDP’s Jonathan in a close election

by Kwabena Opong

Nigeria’s fledgling democracy took a turn for the best as the country’s ruling PDP led by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was defeated in the just completed general elections on March 28. A four-time presidential candidate General Muhammad Buhari led his opposition APC to wrestle power from the PDP that had since 1999 ruled the African giant.
This year’s election represents the people’s resentment toward unbridled corruption in a country rich enough to provide jobs, housing, develop an infrastructure to support its development yet too poor to pay its workers a minimum wage of about three dollars a day. Another important reason for the fall of the PDP was Goodluck Jonathan’s tepid treatment of the Boko Haram menace in the north eastern part of the country.

Furthermore the conduct of the elections was professional, decent, transparent and relatively peaceful. Above all, Nigeria has led the way away from corruption in the election process in Africa.

Election 2015 was one of a kind: the process did not create any avenues for rigging. A nation in which ballot rigging was a marked characteristic, Prof. Atahiru Jega’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) displayed its autonomy in an election that engendered so much fear and apprehension making some who could afford to flee the nation take to their heels. On the day of election voters were made to go through what was described as an accreditation process to ensure their qualification. The next step was simply selecting one’s candidate of choice and then placing the ballot into the box that was openly displayed. It is a process worth emulating in most African nations. The credibility of Ghana’s electoral commission has come into doubt after it was dragged to court after the 2012 general elections. La Cote d’Ivoire was violently destabilized after the elections of 2010 which was also disputed by the current ruler. The dual step approach can therefore help increase faith in the electioneering process in Africa. Personnel manning the process and collating the figures from the polling units included top academics from the nation’s universities.

The government of Mr. Jonathan claims it is making progress driving out Boko Haram into the bush but the success current campaigns against the Islamic insurgents can be attributed principally to South African mercenaries and Chadian forces of Idris Deby. But it came too late: help came a few weeks before the elections, ostensibly to influence

voters. The outcome of the elections indicates voter resentment for the government’s lackadaisical response to the insurgency. Buhari, popularly conceived as a no-nonsense soldier was dismissive of the insurgents, saying, “Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will. “We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism.” Anything less would be considered a non-starter.

Corruption in high places, government and its effect on the Nigerian economy not only angered the people, it diminished faith in the governmental system and reduced any shred of positive expectations from the Jonathan administration. At a wedding for the president’s daughter the couple was given 81 automobiles while they in turn distributed gold-plated cell phones to invited guests. And this happened at a time when250 girls were abducted from a girls school in the state of Borno. The first family could not remove itself from the evil of conspicuous consumption in a nation where the price of one of the phones could feed a family of four for a week.

On corruption President-elect Buhari said in response to a question, “Corruption will not be tolerated by this administration, and it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this nation.”
President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a 18,000 naira (approximately $90) minimum monthly wage, which as reviewed by Issa Aremu, Nigeria Labor Council vice president, some states have not been able to pay. In a move that angered and raised suspicions, President Jonathan reduced prices of gasoline and petroleum products mere weeks before the elections.
The victory of APC attests to the concept of people’s power. It also confirms the Nigerian people’s faith in democracy as against other forms of governance for a country that has seen several military coups and a civil war. Some analysts conclude that this year’s election could be the beginning of a competition between the two major parties in Nigeria, a nation of almost 180 million people. For the first time in the history of Nigeria an elected government has been replaced in a peaceable manner by another elected government.

President-elect Buhari has to work hard to accommodate a cynical polity. Boko Haram, corruption and underdevelopment as well as infrastructure in an oil-rich nation all pose gargantuan challenge to the 73 year-old leader. And Nigerians may have to expect less in the initial stages of the administration, but whether the people would be liberal with their cooperation is another issue. But their confidence in the APC government would be given a further boost if Buhari is able to tackle his country’s energy crisis that has assumed normalcy for several years.

Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, graceful in defeat, thanked the Nigerian people for “the great opportunity I was given to lead this country,” while congratulating Mr. Buhari. President Jonathan reiterated his promise to deliver a “free and fair elections.”
Mr. Buhari on his part made corruption and terrorism his main talking points while making his acceptance speech. He referred to Boko Haram insurgency as a ruthless onslaught and the “evil of corruption as his main focus for his initial agenda in his administration. The APC that has the broom as his symbol made “change” his war cry.

Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is not new to Nigerian politics. He became the head of state of Nigeria from 1983 to 1985 after ousting the administration of Shehu Shagari. A hardliner, the former major general refused to adopt the advice of the IMF to devalue the Naira by 60 percent and broke with it. He would later adopt even harsher measures to rebuild the Nigerian economy removing or cutting back the excesses in national expenditure, obliterating or removing completely corruption from the nation’s social ethics, shifting from mainly public sector employment to self-employment. Buhari also encouraged import substitution industrialization based to a great extent on the use of local materials and tightened importation among others. He is also credited with “war against indiscipline,” a social intervention to instill discipline in his people. The implementation of the policy was fraught with human rights abuses such as public flogging and long sentences for minor crimes.

Detractors of the newly elected president think his track record as a military strongman precedes him and does not make him as credible as a born-again democrat as he claims. But those who voted for him selected him as the lesser of two evils. His past performance, according to his supporters, depicts him as incorruptible, disciplined and focused.

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Posted by on Apr 18 2015. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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