The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the winner of the February 25, 2023 presidential election. Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu is the President-elect according to the declaration made by the Chairman of the country’s electoral body, Professor Mahmood Yakubu at the early hour of Wednesday, March 1, 2023 after a counting process that lasted nearly 5 days. According to the pronouncement, he polled the highest number of votes ahead of former Vice President Abubakar Atiku (PDP); former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi (LP) and one time Speaker of the House of Representatives, former Minister, and Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (NNPP) who were the major contestants.
I am not oblivious of some of the hecklings being thrown on INEC over alleged riggings; the cases are for the courts to decide hence some of the contestants who alleged foul play by some officials of INEC have affirmed their intentions to seek redress in the courts. This is a welcome development hence it is part of the democratic principles put in place in addressing electoral disagreements; it is better than toeing the path of violence that will do damage to all of us and the country.
However, by my personal analysis, the votes cast so far reflected the will of the people beyond primordial sentiments, religion and tribal bigotry. The government can build a strong foundation on this to evolve an all-inclusive sociopolitical culture in order to further advance our democracy and boost our ego at regional and international domains.
As a democrat and visionary leader, the President-elect, Senator Tinubu has in sagely mien extended an olive branch to his co-contenders, and this for me is a sign for a rebuilding process that demands the participation of all Nigerians; we cannot afford to shy away from this handshake as fellow citizens. After all, we are still one, members, of the great union called Nigeria. We are duty-bound to work for her good and therefore we must see whatever discordant as that of the teeth and the tongue, both occupants of the same mouth.
Some persons have called on the President-elect to form a Government of National Unity (GNU); conversely, some others especially of the ruling APC rejected this. For me, every step taken for healing process, rebuilding of our democratic system and reuniting the people is chiefly and upmost of options because what is paramount for us as a people is peace; and peace is inevitable to effective governance and advancement of our socioeconomic development.
I am aware that election of this magnitude generate serious emotions and thus seen as sacred; and its sanctity must therefore be preserved by every relevant institution and authority in order not to obliterate its legitimacy. Election is a social battle, and the bitterness that supervened must not last to the evening otherwise it becomes poisonous. Further to this, I have 2 appeals to make: the aggrieved contestants and their supporters in their quest for amends of alleged impairment on the election must not forget that they are also in the boat with the INEC-declared winner and his followers, and the winner and his supporters must exhibit a high sense of maturity in their celebrations, comments and reactions not to fuel the ember. None is immune to the devastation of violence directly or indirectly, therefore, we must guard against its despicability.
On his part, the President-elect must see himself first and foremost as a father and leader of all Nigerians irrespective of party affiliation, religious and ethnic inclinations. The political parties only provide platforms for contestants and if you like, help to define the activities of elections, once elected, the interest of the president becomes national and for common good. He must for these reasons among others use the privileges available to his office to build bridges across the length and breadth of the country for the promotion of national unity. Ask me, I will suggest that there is the urgent need to convene a National Conference on Peace to deactivate our national life of ethno-religious and primitive sentiments that have polarize the country, and each day pulling the people away from one another. Side by side with the efforts toward etching peace in our national life is the need to take a good sweep at our security architecture in order to develop a structure with maximum use of geospatial technologies for a robust security system.
It is not out of place to also advocate that on assumption of office, the president should ensure that political positions and other public offices reflect various shades and the geopolitical zones of the country in a way that will douse the unnecessary tension and sense of insecurity that is renting our political atmosphere. People from every part of the country will also have a sense of belonging and warrant participatory in the governance; this is apt to discourage apathy in the system especially when it comes to government’s policies and programmes that demand the cooperative and support of every Nigerian.
To succeed, the President of Nigeria must shun bigotry, avoid ally whose advice is biased, self-centered as against national unity, sociopolitical reconstruction and sustainable development.
By Abu, I. Michael
Michael is the Head of Press and Public Relations, Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation