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Published On: Wed, Aug 13th, 2014

Osun, Ekiti polls: Litmus test for 2015 general elections

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By Dada Ahmed

For many years, the political landscape of Nigeria, as regards elections, has been plagued by crises, which at times resulted in the loss of people’s lives and property.

Political scientists say that the negative development has made many Nigerians to view politics as a dirty game, adding that such perception has compelled them steer away from participating in elections.

With this mindset, many Nigerians envisaged some crisis during the recent governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states, mostly because self-seeking politicians often foment trouble whenever their chances of winning elections get blurry.

Some concerned citizens, therefore, feared that the two elections would end up in crisis, as the contestants squared up to each other, trading words and pointing accusing fingers to one another; all in the quest to garner the goodwill of the electorate.

However, the people’s reservations soon disappeared, as the two polls turned out to be quite peaceful, with local and international election observers also describing the two elections as free, credible and transparent, with the process and outcome of the elections tending to reinforce the citizens’ optimism that the 2015 general elections will be similarly peaceful, free, fair, credible and transparent.

Prof. Bamitale Omole, the Returning Officer for Osun State Governorship Election, attributed the successful conduct of the election to the early preparations of INEC for the exercise, among other factors, urging the electoral body to sustain the feat in subsequent elections.

Mr Micheal Onimi, a historian in Okene, Kogi, recalled that electoral violence started in Nigeria as far back as 1964 but however noted with joy that Nigerian politicians appeared to have learnt some lessons from past happenings “unlike their counterparts in France in the 16th Century whose style of politics led to the 1789 French Revolution”.

Onimi, who is also a retired politician, said that Nigerian politicians were now promoting peace because they were obviously aware that “without peace, no nation can experience any meaningful development.”

He said that contrary to presumptions in certain quarters, the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun were hitch-free, crisis-free and without any form of violence.

Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Mohammed Alli, a politician in Lokoja, said that the two elections signified that democracy is taking firm root in Nigeria.

“Nowadays, people appreciate the need for political tolerance and there is real deepening of democratic tenets. This signifies a consolidation of the country’s democracy,” he added.

Shuaibu Sanni, another Lokoja-based politician, urged politicians to learn from earlier mistakes in Nigeria’s political history, while striving to promote peace at all costs, stressing that all the citizens, particularly politicians, should draw lessons from the peaceful conduct of the governorship polls in Ekiti and Osun states in efforts to strengthen the country’s democracy.

Hajia Amina Salami, a politician in Lokoja, said that she was particularly happy that women in Ekiti and Osun states performed their civic responsibility by fully participating in the elections.

“I am very happy that the two elections in Ekiti and Osun have come and gone, encouraging all Nigerians to breath fresh air, in our quest for peaceful, free, fair and problem-free elections.

“As a female politician, I am glad to note that women trooped out en-masse to vote during the elections, which were conducted under a peaceful atmosphere.

“I pray that all the politicians in the country will emulate Ekiti and Osun politicians in the 2015 general elections; we should all endeavour to work for peace during and after the elections.

“This will usher in a political atmosphere that will stimulate the social, economic and political development in the country in a practical way,’’ she said.

Nevertheless, Mr Michael Alabi, a lawyer, commended the winners and losers in the two governorship elections for displaying uncommon spirit of sportsmanship.

“We have seen in the Ekiti election where the loser and incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was, perhaps, one of the first persons to congratulate the winner, Mr Ayodele Fayose. This is unprecedented in the annals of Nigerian politics.

“While we are not unmindful of some people challenging the results of the polls in the court, we have seen elements of political tolerance, respect for the wishes of the electorate in the two polls,” he added.

Alabi noted with delight that the two elections demonstrated that country’s politicians had started to imbibe President Goodluck Jonathan’s political philosophy of violence-free elections.

Alhaji Sule Abdulrahman, whose house was razed during the political crisis which engulfed Kogi Central Senatorial District in 2007, described the elections in Ekiti and Osun “as rays of hope that the 2015 elections will be rancour-free.

“Nigerians have had a lot of traumatic experience resulting from political crises, particularly during elections.

“It is high time Nigerian politicians took a cue from the Western nations by playing politics according to its rules,” he said.

By and large, analysts urge the citizens, particularly politicians, to adopt strategies that would facilitate the evolution of a good political system in Nigeria, so as to strengthen efforts to fast-track the country’s development. (NANFeatures)

 

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