“One thing the whole world should know about us Nigerians is that, Guinness or no Guinness, there is Greatness in us all”. This was my Twitter update immediately after I learnt President Goodluck Jonathan had called the President-elect to congratulate him even before the Borno State result was read. That singular selfless and sportsmanly act – that simple phone call – just went down as the most important phone call between two individuals in the recent history of Nigeria. President Goodluck just saved 160 million people from witnessing the fragmentation of the country as predicted by America, in what could have been the most violent election aftermath.
We had all prepared for the worse: stocking up on food and water, servicing cars, and piling up fuel. A friend asked if we were preparing for an apocalypse, because the apprehension in Lagos was so thick that you could feel it dangling like a sword in the air. Thankfully, we never got to use our supply for any emergency. The election came and peacefully went and we all owe the PDP-led government an appreciation for not unnecessarily holding on to a power that in truth belongs to the people.
Although many people downplayed the significance of that phone call (some even said that was the norm), I for one know that the most severe affliction of African leaders is their unwillingness to relinquish power, even when they have obviously overstayed their welcome at the helm. Without making excuses for them, this may be connected to the culturally embedded perennial absolutism of the African ruler. Our genes may have evolved to believe in the divinity of our kings and queens and to accept them and their excesses until the expiration of their tenure at death. Hence, when the system of governance was hijacked and reformed by our colonial masters, the mindset of our leaders remains stuck in the monarchy system. It may, for instance, inform why former president Olusegun Obasanjo desired a third-term. Same explanation goes for other African leaders, such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Paul Biya of Cameroon.
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Nothing lasts forever. And even African leaders’ pre-colonial mindset seems to be altering for the better as is being demonstrated across Africa by the likes Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia and, lately, in Nigeria by our own Goodluck Jonathan. Democracy has come, democracy is seeing and democracy will most definitely conquer across the continent.
It is yet difficult for me to use the word “change” without sounding partisan but like the word or not, a change has come; a tremendous change for that matter, which has visited us politically. We the people are now more than ever aware of the degree of power in our individual votes. The last elections may have their flaws, but they also marked a rebirth and the kind of political consciousness never experienced in the 54 years of Nigeria’s existence as a country. Never again will a politician take the people for granted and hope to win elections based on eleventh-hour performance, threats from tribal vigilantes and sharing of bags of rice and envelops stuffed with 100 dollar bills. Suddenly, people power has assumed its rightful place in our polity!
Let us not forget that there were still pockets of violence before and after the elections. That part of our electoral system hasn’t felt the wind of change blowing around because system is still infested with money politics. The last elections, I learnt, were the most expensive and reckless in terms of politicians unashamedly going about on mindless spending orgies. Even royalty abandoned discretion for a while and turned town criers!
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What then is the fate the youth? Is it not sad that at this stage as a people a lot of us still allow ourselves to be used as political thugs and man Fridays? When we collect bags of rice instead of asking our politicians for manifestoes and action plan for the execution of their mouthwatering promises, we have by default sold ourselves collectively into another four years of slavery. In any case, our learning curve just tilted a bit upwards, a sign that there is yet hope if only we continue to stay watchful, eschew sycophancy and nurture positive critique of the incoming regime. Hopefully, the fast disintegrating PDP will get their crumbling house together to enable it play its new role as a formidable opposition to APC.
Like many other Nigerians, I hope for a better Nigeria. It is important to remind the President-elect, General Buhari, that what the votes of the people he won means is high expectation from the people who generously showed him love at the polls. I wish him luck in the delicate task of balancing the high expectations of the people with the actual reality on ground. Above all, I pray for God’s guidance for him because without it, he will achieve nothing.
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