HARD NEWS, Newspaper Column

We Are The Reason No Violence Erupted After Poll Result

By M. Babajide-Alabi
For Nigerians it was forty eight hours of waiting anxiously for the results of the March 28, 2015 Presidential elections. And like eagles we patiently stayed glued to the televisions, radio and social media networks for any hint of where victory was swinging. To the credit of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the elections took place smoothly in all the local governments of the country, barring the initial hiccups with the smart reader.

It may have taken the electoral agency such a long time to announce the final result, but it did not take ordinary Nigerians as much to have glimpses of results at the ward levels. A few hours after the elections were held and polling booths officially dismantled, the social media was awash with various results. To the credit of Nigerians, they guarded their votes and hung around till the collations were done and the results read out openly.

It took a short time for video clips of returning officers, in various parts of the country, announcing results to go viral on social media. And in an unprecedented manner, Nigerians were independently collating results as posted from various sources on the social media. We needed not wait for INEC to officially announce the results before trooping to the streets to celebrate what many has termed a change. We knew early in the day who the winner was going to be and realised where the dance and celebrations were going to take place, and in droves we came out.

The social media was awash with congratulatory messages for the All Peoples Congress and its Presidential Candidate, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd). It was such an early lead for him and his party in an election that has been described as the freest, peaceful and well organised in the history of Nigeria. In the same spirit, the incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, saw the “handwriting” on the wall so early. It came as a surprise and shock for Nigerians when the opposition spokeman announced that Jonathan had called his opponent to congratulate him, even before the official announcement of the election results.
For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the job of the electoral body was made simple by the citizens. Professor Jega was “ice cold” as he and his team of returning officers collated the results from the various states. Jega’s calmness has been, rightly or wrongly, attributed to the fact that he knew the “matter” had been taken out of his hands. Jega knew which ever way the votes swing, he and his men could not be accussed of impartiality.

He was however jolted out of his “coolness” when Elder Godsday Orubebe, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) “invited” the INEC chairman for a shouting match. Jega did not take the bait, rather he sat still on his seat and joined other Nigerians in watching the “show of shame” as performed by the former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, To Jega, the elections process must be concluded.

Before the elections many analysts had predicted Nigeria would have the most violent “one” in the history of the country. As a result of these analysis, the world held its breath for Nigeria, not only because of the process of the elections, but mainly the aftermath of it. Many Nigerians who could afford it migrated from the country a few days before the elections in anticipation of post election violence. Some who could not “jet” out, travelled to their villages to cool their heels should trouble break out in cities and towns.

Going by history, the fear of these analysts for post election violence is understandable. The security situation in the country coupled with the threats of violence by well known individuals should their candidates lose formed the basis of the arguments. They referred us to the violence that rocked the nation after the 2011 elections, when innocent youth corp members and southerners were massacred in the northern part of the country. As a result, the 2015 presidential elections was referred to as “make or break” for the Nigeria.

The tension was further heightened by news stories that the Jonathan administration was considering various options should it lose the elections. Many citizen news outlets and blogs were reporting “exclusive” stories of how many ship loads of arms and ammunitions have been cleared at the ports for the purpose of the elections. Some brazenly alerted their readers how Jonathan and his clique have decided to forment trouble in the country should there be a slight indication the polls were not going in their favour. The most widely circulated was the story that Jonathan would rather form an Interim Government than hand over to the former Head of State Muhammad Buhari.

It was therefore a relief for Nigerians and indeed the international community that these “armchair” analysts were proved wrong. We may tend to caution ourselves now that probably we are being a little bit too fast in thinking we have made it beyond the era of killing ourselves because of politics. Yes, we still have another hurdle to cross on Aprill 11. But we think about this when we get there. However, we know for sure the 2015 Presidential Elections took place without any major violence. We also know since the official results of the elections were announced, no violence has been recorded.

For these, we can confidently raise our glasses and click to the survival of our country, Nigeria while we say – April 11? Bring it on. It is in the bag, already.

First Published on April 2, 2015 on CityVoiceNG website

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