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The presidential choice we made

An election is a civic duty performed by citizens for the citizens. Through it, they arguably institute a government of their choice. Potentially, 87.2 million…

An election is a civic duty performed by citizens for the citizens. Through it, they arguably institute a government of their choice. Potentially, 87.2 million of us in our dear country performed that simple civic duty yesterday to elect a new president, elect new as well as re-elect serving members of the national assembly.  We have taken a critical step towards instituting a new national government to replace the Buhari crowd that came into town nearly eight years ago.

The figure quoted above is the number of registered voters – men and women qualified by law to exercise that civic duty. It would be pushing it to think that all 87.2 million of us turned up at the polling centres. The number would not just be huge but also phenomenal but a positive record in a nation with pronounced voter apathy.

As you read this, the results of what use we individually made of the ballot papers yesterday are trickling in. Soon, the world will know what choices we have made. The nation and the world – friends and foes alike of our dear nation – hold their collective breaths to see which of the front runners for president received the people’s clear nod. Obi? Tinubu? Abubakar? We have made our choice.

The local and foreign election observers are in interested in the answer to just one question: Did the election live up to the INEC promise to be free, fair and credible?  Every election in our country is held under the looming shadows of a million things going wrong – ballot box snatching, vote buying, under-age voting – all of which spell that dreaded word: rigging.

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Millions of questions assail us too as citizens who were called to perform this very critical civic duty that may remake our country or deepen the morass of our collective confusion. Did we perform that duty fully aware that our conscience throbs rather loudly and will eventually judge us? Did we put aside ethnic and religious sentiments to elect a new man as president who has the ability, the capacity, and the vision to regenerate a sclerotic nation? Did we make a good choice we can live with in the next four years in the first instance?

Whatever the answers may be, there is every reason to hope that yesterday we duly exercised our civic duty and gave to ourselves and our nation, a sure-footed leader, a broad-minded man, a fair-minded man, and a pan-Nigerian who will be committed to and able to tackle the myriads of our nation’s critical challenges. The next president will not have an easy time in Aso Rock. There will be so much to do.

The challenges before him are enormous and critical to the survival of the nation itself. He faces the challenge of an economy that has been driven south and requires more than sloganeering to turn it back to the east to begin the long process of recovery. He faces the challenges of our fault lines mined and cynically exploited by the outgoing Buhari administration to the detriment of our national unity and cohesion – ethnically and religiously. He faces the horrendous challenges of insecurity and the anomaly of Katsina and Borno state governors sharing powers with bandits and Boko Haram respectively.

A civic duty such as casting our votes looks all so simple but it is anything that simple. It imposes heavy responsibilities on the individual voters. One is the responsibility it imposes on the voter to be true to himself and his conscience, hence in casting his vote he is shielded from the prying eyes of the public. The freedom given to him to use his ballot paper as he wishes is presumed on the belief that he will exercise that freedom to benefit himself and the country.

Soon, we will know what choice of a president we have made with our ballot papers. An election is a tyranny of numbers. Whatever the majority decides must be accepted by the minority. We will know if the majority of voters chose the kind of man we expect to heal our nation and give it the opportunity it needs to recover itself from the years the locusts ate; or, if driven by sentiments, chose a man who will enjoy the protocols of power and allow the nation to stew in gratuitous lethargy.

We have voted. The people have spoken. One of the three men – Ahmed Bola Tinubu (APC), Peter Obi (LP) and Atiku Abubakar (PDP)—has received the thumbs up of the electorate. There will be wild jubilations in the camp of the successful and the gnashing of teeth in the camps of the other two men who received the thumbs down from the electorate. There is nothing strange about this. It is life and it is the nature of competitions – winners and losers.