Thursday, 2 April 2015

Nigeria Presidential election 2015 and lessons to be learnt

INEC presents certificate of return to General Buhari in Abuja

The aftermath of the recently concluded 2015 Presidential election raises more questions than answers.  None more so than the glaring divide in the voting pattern of Nigerians across ethnic and more especially religious line.

The high turnout number of accredited voters in some states that experienced a higher percentage of card reader malfunctions and as a result used manual accreditation.

The failure and impact of technology the disenfranchised many eligible Nigerian voters and gave room for credible allegations of underage voting and election rigging and result manipulation around the Country.

On a positive note, one thing stood out Nigerians demanded change and united to enforce the change.  For this singular reason Elections will never be the same especially with the influence and impact of the social media in covering future elections.  
No longer shall the office of the President be exclusive right of a particular group or ethnic group. Politicians will be under the microscope throughout their tenure in office and under performance will not be accepted by voters.
It beggars the question, did Muhammadu Buhari win or did Goodluck Jonathan lose?  It doesn't matter how we look at it, the biggest winner in this Election is Nigeria. 

Obviously a number of factors contributed to the first ever democratic transfer of power between political parties in Nigeria’s history.

– Voter ID card readers – (Work in Progress but a massive disappointment and failure in 2015 Presidential election however it is a huge step in the right direction).
Previous elections in Nigeria have been hit by electoral fraud on an industrial scale but this year was different with the introduction of biometric voter identity cards and handheld readers.
Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) opposed the use of the new technology, saying it had been insufficiently tested and questioned officials’ ability to use them.

Embarrassingly, the device malfunctioned as Jonathan tried to accredit himself for the vote but elections Chief Attahiru Jega said such glitches only affected 0.25 percent or 374 of the 150,000 machines used.

There were still claims of vote-rigging and other irregularities, including election officials being locked up or disappearing, but international observers broadly praised the conduct of the vote.

On Wednesday, Nigeria’s Transition Monitoring Group, which ran its own tally from a representative sample of polling units, said it “confidently verifies the accuracy of the official results”.
– Political support –
Buhari stood for the presidency in 2003, 2007 and 2011 for smaller political parties without the huge financial backing that is required to win support in Nigeria.

Four years ago he won an impressive 10 million votes, mostly in the north, but by joining the better-organised and wealthier All Progressives Congress (APC) he was in a much stronger position.
“He won because he built a stronger, broader national coalition,” said political commentator Chris Ngwodo.

“In this country, you win the presidency by building bridges over the divide, between the (Muslim-majority) north and (largely Christian) south and he has done that.
“He has a very strong following in the north. What was different this time is that he was able to hitch to a much organised political machine in the southwest. That made him a more national figure.”

– Boko Haram –
Jonathan’s inability to stem the Islamist violence in the northeast was incomprehensible to many Nigerians proud of their military and its role at the vanguard of past UN peacekeeping missions.
A tipping point was reached when Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls on April 14 last year; sparking global outrage at the crime but also at Jonathan’s handling of the crisis.

The APC capitalised on this as well as former military ruler Buhari’s background as an army general to position him as qualified to handle the insurgency, although not everyone is convinced.
J. Peter Pham, from the Atlantic Council, said: “Buhari may be viewed as a Muslim and a pious one by many Nigerians but he is clearly not Muslim enough for the extremists.
“He is a former military man but it’s been three decades since he’s been in uniform.”

– Change –
Quite simply, many Nigerians had had enough of the PDP, which has been in power for 16 years since the end of decades of military rule.
In that time, Nigeria may have increased its share of billionaires but perennial problems of lack of constant electricity and clean water persist, living standards remain low and corruption rampant.

Buhari became Nigeria’s anti-corruption crusader in chief and with it came the expectation of realistic change, particularly in the eyes of voters either too young or not born when he was military ruler, cracking down — often harshly — on graft.
“Buhari’s message of change resonated with an emerging demographic of young, independent urbanites who simply wanted governance,” said Ngwodo.

“They didn't care for identity politics and were repelled by the identity politics of the incumbent president.”

Nigerian Economy with the impact of falling oil price globally 

Nigeria may have become Africa’s biggest economy during Jonathan’s time in office but few felt the benefits, with the success cancelled out by the global fall in oil prices, on which the economy depends.
Government revenues have been squeezed and the country’s budget estimates revised, adding to inflationary pressures as the naira currency weakened sharply against the US dollar.

Buhari’s economic credentials are uncertain but he didn't have to do much to take advantage of the situation. His moves to address Nigeria’s economic difficulties will now be closely watched.

“We think a Buhari win implies reformist policies, including austere fiscal policy and a clampdown on graft,” said Charles Robertson of Renaissance Capital.

In conclusion, leading a coalition may undermine his ability to make difficult decisions, Buhari will face a significant challenge in his cabinet appointments and getting it right will be crucial to win the trust of the nation and at the same time ensure this cosy marriage with APC does not turn into Marriage from hell.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

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