The outright rejection of the results of the 2019 national election by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), even before the final votes were counted, is very discouraging. The action departs from the two principles that ought to have guided the 2019 polls. The first is an admonition by President Goodluck Jonathan that, “nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.” The other is the lesson of President Muhammadu Buhari who, though felt aggrieved while losing the presidency on three different occasions, sought redress through the courts.
The prayer here is for the winners to be magnanimous in victory, and for the losers to have the courage to concede in good faith. A rap that Buhari was a sore loser in the three different occasions he did not win. That is sadly true. In fact, he neither congratulated the winners in 2003, 2007, and 2011 nor recognized them while they were in office. But how far can our democracy grow by repeating the same mistakes over, and over again? How far can Nigeria go by laying the foundation of the future with the filthy mud of the past? More importantly, who are the victims, besides the unwary masses?
President Goodluck Jonathan answered these questions when he buried past transgressions by conceding at a timely manner in 2015. Despite obvious electoral flaws in the 2015 process, Jonathan congratulated the winner for the greater good. Today, he has become a hero in defeat. Many great men had lost in the past and ended as the hero of their people. The likes of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Aminu Kano, and Waziri Ibrahim, never won at the national level, but their legacies endure. Former American President Jimmy Carter was voted out of office in 1980, but he forged on to win the Noble Prize 22 years later. Carter, today, is viewed as one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.
The 2019 presidential election has come and gone, but the aftermath depends on the actions or inactions of the leaders. Though there ere are glaring flaws in the elections, including needless loss of human lives, in which both the ruling and opposition parties are culpable, the elections were generally peaceful. Therefore, the blanket rejection of the results by the main opposition party is ill-advised. This action, a seemingly boycott in middle of a game, is a veiled incitement for revolt from their gullible supporters. We have already encountered deaths too many, most of who were innocent youths. Any attempt to further overheat the polity is unpatriotic. The world is watching.
So far, we have seen some praiseworthy developments, as well as reprehensible behaviors on part of the politicians. Commendation must go to the Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi of the ruling party, and President of the Senate and the Director-General of the Presidential Campaign Council of the main opposition party, Bukola Saraki; two powerful candidates, who lost their bids to the senate but showed the way by timely conceding and congratulating their opponents. Conversely, condemnation should go to the likes of Godswill Akpabio and Chris Ngige who have been inducing all manners of scenes because their party lost in their respective constituencies or states.
The outcome of the presidential election was not supposed to come as a surprise, especially considering that most objective analysts had predicted a Buhari victory. Be that as it may, now is the time for both former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari to emulate former President Jonathan and demonstrate exemplary leadership. The posterity calls on Atiku to concede defeat and, if aggrieved, abide by the Constitution and seek redress in the courts. Similarly, Buhari should demonstrate, more than ever before, that he is the father of the whole nation. Unlike his posture after his party’s primaries, Buhari should switch to a full toga of peace. He ought to equally appeal to some of his party men, particularly, Lai Mohammed and Adams Oshiomhole, to tone down their pattern of inflammatory rhetorics and antics. Arrogance negates obeyance.
SKC Ogbonnia, former 2019 APC Presidential Aspirant, writes from Abuja.