2015 must mean different things to different Nigerians. Matter of fact, 2015 bore a terrifying reputation far ahead of its advent.
In 2012, some American experts did a scenario painting which suggested that if leaders of Nigeria did not tread softly, the country might as well become a war zone in 2015.
So, the world panicked ahead of the general elections, about chances that violence might erupt in Nigeria. This anxiety was increased by the volume of animosity that electioneering generated. Although mudslinging, name calling and outright verbal warfare had always been part of democratic elections, the 2015 elections in Nigeria took this a notch higher. It got so bad that candidates and leaders of the frontline political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) signed at least two peace agreements before the elections.
President Barack Obama of the United States even sent a high powered mission lead by Secretary of State, John Kerry, to meet with political gladiators in the country and discourage any chance of violence. The world shivered at the thought of unrest in Nigeria. Fortunately, the elections went without much incident and Nigeria is one country even as the year of expected doom ends.
When Nigerians look back, these are some of the things that they must remember about 2015.
God loves Nigeria: Even if a lot of Nigerians think our compatriots invest too much time and energy into religious activities, the 2015 elections should remind us that God exists and that he truly listens to the prayer of his people.
Before the elections, prayers were said in all places of worship round the clock. These prayers centered essentially on non-violent elections as well as divine enablement for Nigeria to weather the gathering storm.
The elections came and went without any earth shaking event. Nigeria is still one country as 2015 fades.
The people have a role to play in national destiny: Until the 2015 elections, the mass of the people of Nigeria did not understand the enormity of their power in the choice of their leaders. But that changed in 2015.
I heard the story of an elderly woman who took ill and was admitted into hospital. While still in hospital, she told her doctors that no matter what happens, she must be allowed to go home on March 28 to vote out the then incumbent and vote for the candidate she favoured to win the elections. The old woman would pass on a few days after March 28 but not without fulfilling her civic right.
This was the passion with which Nigerians attended to the 2015 elections. People got to their pulling booths as early as 7 am in the morning, waiting for as long as 12 hours before the process ended on a lot of occasions. At the end of the day you could say that the will of the people prevailed.
First Inter party change of baton: In its 55 years of nationhood, Nigeria got the first opportunity to have an incumbent president (who contested in the elections) hand over power to someone from the opposition party. In all of the four times that Nigeria has attempted democratic governance, succession has been forcedly granted the ruling party even when elections manifestly reflected otherwise. This changed in 2015 as former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) handed over to President Muhammad Buhari of the All Progressive Congress(APC)
There are still people of honour in Nigeria: Late President Umaru Yar’Adua would be the first politician in Nigeria to own up to the irregularity of the elections that brought him to power. He then went ahead to promise a reform of the electoral process such that never again would the will of the people be thwarted.
Unfortunately, Yar’Adua did not live out his term. His successor, President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to see the promise of his boss through and did exactly that.
The process started with the appointment of former Vice Chancellor of the Bayero University, Kano and chair of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASSU), Professor Atthairu Jega, a man of outstanding qualities as head of the Independent Electoral Commission(INEC). Jega conducted one of the most transparent elections in the history of this country. And even while there were all shades of reasons fir which the ruling party could have contest the outcome of the elections, President Jonathan called his main opponent, President Buhari to concede defeat and congratulate him on his victory.
Jega and Jonathan proved to be leaders who inspire others to hard work and love of country.
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