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Tinubu and renewed hope for our democracy

It is normal in these climes for politicians to complain about everything when they lose elections. The case of the 2023 presidential election is no…

It is normal in these climes for politicians to complain about everything when they lose elections. The case of the 2023 presidential election is no different. Some of those who lost the election are making concerted efforts to destroy, not just personalities, but all the institutions they think did not work in their favour. This is the norm. However, some of the politicians who lost seem to have taken their game to a new level by seeking to bury democracy itself. 

According to the DSS, some of these politicians are concocting the interim government contraption to checkmate our democracy. Others are using shadowy groups and associations to plead for a military takeover. And, while lawyers with questionable intentions are churning out curious interpretations of the law to stop the swearing-in of the president-elect, doomsday prophets are predicting the end of Nigerian democracy with reckless gusto.

Of course, the winner of the election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is also a major target. There seems to be a competition between some of the losers and their followers to see who could insult the president-elect the most. Malicious stories are invented every day by this mob to destroy Tinubu’s person and image. Perhaps they are convinced that such negative stories will make those who voted for him hate him so much they will withdraw their votes and give the votes to the losers.

One thing that is certain from all the goings on is that the losers have appropriated the rights of all other Nigerians to freely elect whomever they want. When the losers speak, they insist they won without agreeing that some Nigerians did not vote for them. And when they grudgingly accept that some people did not vote for them, they describe such people with insulting or derogatory adjectives. This gives our politics a toxic touch that always threatens national cohesion.

The 2023 experience was just as bad as it was in previous elections. But the soul searching has been deeper than before. So, the election, it seems, has provided us with an opportunity to re-examine our politics and this will no doubt deepen our democracy no matter how it ends.

All these moves and shenanigans are, however, ironic as the 2023 presidential election is probably the best organized and most open since the return to democracy in 1999. It wasn’t perfect (no election can be claimed to be perfect) but it provided such a level playing field that parties without the usual ‘war chest’ won in unlikely places and displaced powerful politicians. Instead of recognizing these positives and working on improving the few shortcomings identified, the losers are bent on throwing the 2023 presidential election away along with democracy.

The 2023 presidential election has presented us with an opportunity to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy, but some don’t want us to see or acknowledge the opportunities. In the first place, politicians who did not have money or a so-called political structure won. This suggests progress as it means that in the nearest future, money politics will disappear and politicians will truly need to depend on their performance or plans to win elections.

Secondly, going by the antecedents of the winner, Nigeria’s elusive search for national unity and inclusiveness may be within reach with the coming of President Tinubu. He is a known bridge-builder who has links and deep connections with groups, nationalities and identities across the country. The links and connections, built over many years, have remained so enduring that they contributed significantly to his win at the pools. Stories abound of how he reached out to support many political gladiators across party lines just to preserve and promote democracy. This may yet be a good omen for our national politics.

The election is also an opportunity to explore the legal interpretation of some thorny issues thrown up by the outcome. For instance, what is the correct interpretation of Section 134 of the Nigerian Constitution? The interpretation of this section seems to have taken a life of its own as almost every lawyer and public analyst has come up with one interpretation or the other.

Now, we have an opportunity to put the issue to rest as it is a major item before the presidential election tribunal and is likely to go all the way to the Supreme Court. And whichever way the court leans, the answer will no doubt deepen our democracy.

Then of course there is the debate on the processes and procedures adopted by INEC. Before the election, INEC had promised to transmit results from polling units to the IReV which would be available to the public. On election day, however, this didn’t happen as INEC claimed that the IReV experienced a glitch. Does INEC’s inability to transmit the results to IReV as promised constitute a major breach of election requirements? Or does INEC have the power to determine how to transmit results? 

When all is said and done, if the election of Bola Tinubu is eventually validated by the courts, his experiences as a former governor and progressive politician may allow Nigeria to further deepen its democracy. And maybe all parties (winners and losers) will find a new, less toxic way of playing Nigerian politics.

 

Abdulkadir sent in this piece via [email protected]  

 

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