2015 General Election Proved Nigeria Is True Giant Of Africa

2015 General Election Proved Nigeria Is True Giant Of Africa

In this piece for Legit.ng, Japheth Omojuwa, the renowned Nigerian author, explains how the 2015 general election has proved to the whole world that Nigeria is a true "Giant of Africa".

One of the numerous reasons why the US was so much involved in 2015 Nigeria's elections is that its government did not want to be caught on the wrong side of history. Many Nigerians believe that the United States predicted Nigeria’s break-up in 2015 years ago, though the US has denied this allegation. Nevertheless, the onus laid on it to ensure 2015 elections would not become what most people within Nigeria and around the world felt it would be: at best - a violent electoral process, at worst - breakdown of law and order, and even war.

Nigeria’s elections and its general success were not featured repeatedly on most international news channels, and it only means the election process was generally peaceful and not as bloody as it was expected. Featuring Africa on most international media platforms resembles the flight of a plane. If the plane lands successfully it is no news. If the plane crashes it is the news ready to be milked by all and sundry. That is often so much Africa’s reality that the special programs have to report what is good on the continent because, being left to the regular news coverage, Africa would not move from where it was decades ago.

That’s why Nigeria’s ability to prove the world wrong during 2015 elections is more than just the country’s victory. This is the victory many Africans, home and abroad, can be proud of. If the reports one has been getting over the last few days are anything to go by, many Africans are glad Nigeria has proved the world wrong.

Nigeria’s general elections were always going to be Nigeria’s biggest test of democracy. The election, where the unpopular incumbent was running against a serial candidate with an obsessive followership, coupled with the long-held so-called prediction that the country would break up in 2015, make 2015 the year to be concerned about.

In its own research, CLEEN Foundation on April 2014 reported that 15 Nigeria’s states were prone to electoral violence. However, except Rivers and Akwa Ibom, there was no pronounced violence elsewhere. The elections in the whole north and southwest were generally peaceful. Out of the states tagged “most volatile”, including Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Osun, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara, only Rivers has truly lived up to the expectation. Rivers was indeed the outlier reality.

The International Crisis Group has on its part suggested that “the country is heading toward a very volatile and vicious electoral contest”. The electoral violence during 2015 elections was the consensus amongst local and international platforms concerned. However, Nigeria somehow got the same organizations to reach another consensus - that the elections were largely peaceful and better organized than most previous ones. The complete reports by the election observers have not been released, but anyone believing it was always going to be a tough test for Nigeria’s 16-year-old democracy must certainly agree that Nigeria has come out of this with at least a pass mark.

It would be foolhardy to conclude that just because the elections have turned out differently the predictions of violence were groundless, because they, actually, weren’t. Everything did look gloomy only months before. Boko Haram rampaged, the politicians issued threats and counter threats, the incumbent looked afraid of being defeated, the mythical predictions of Nigeria’s break-up in 2015 still hung in the air. Nigeria has come out of this better than expected, but only because the process was well-managed.

The peace accords signed by both candidates have really helped, and the credit must go to the National Peace Committee led by the former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, for its role in keeping the major candidates, their supporters and their political parties in check. The excerpts of the peace accord signed on January 14, 2015 include the following points:

- To run issue-based campaigns at national, states and local government levels. In this, we pledge to refrain from campaigns that will involve religious sentiment, ethnic or tribal profiling, both by ourselves and all agents acting in our name.

- To refrain from making or causing to make in our names or that of our parties any public statement, pronouncement, declaration or speeches that have the capacity to incite any form of violence before, during and after the elections.

- To forcefully and publicly speak out against provocative utterances and oppose all acts of electoral violence whether perpetuated by our supporters and/or opponents.

- To commit ourselves and political parties to the monitoring of the adherence of this accord if necessary, by a national peace committee made up of respected statesmen and women, traditional and religious leaders.

- All government institutions including the INEC and security agencies must act and be seen to act with impartiality.[sic]

The role of the peace committee has been largely underreported, but its work has been proved effective. A picture of President Jonathan and his main challenger General Buhari in a warm embrace with the hashtag #NigeriaDecides has become the most shared image on the social media. That must mean something.

The rest of Africa has a lot to learn from 2015 Nigeria’s elections. Such countries as Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Angola cannot afford to just appreciate and celebrate Nigeria from a far. They must engage the major Nigerian actors. The INEC could have done much better, but its chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, has certainly come out of this process with his head held high. His expertise, calmness in the face of provocation and experience have all been proved useful at least to the rest of Africa.

Nigeria has made Africa proud as it has passed its biggest democratic test having the incumbent president voted out of power. By the time the handover takes place on May 29, 2015, there will have been the culmination of another historic march to a sustained democratic culture in the African country that has seen plenty of political turmoil. The doom prophecies have ended up being just that. Sure, the prophets sharing them must be happy for the rest of us. Nigeria is happy to show the rest of Africa, for once, who is the true "Giant of Africa".

Japheth Omojuwa is a renowned Nigerian social media expert, columnist and Legit.ng contributor.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Legit.ng.

Source: Legit.ng

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Khadijah Thabit (Copyeditor) Khadijah Thabit is an editor with over 3 years of experience editing and managing contents such as articles, blogs, newsletters and social leads. She has a BA in English and Literary Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Khadijah joined Legit.ng in September 2020 as a copyeditor and proofreader for the Human Interest, Current Affairs, Business, Sports and PR desks. As a grammar police, she develops her skills by reading novels and dictionaries. Email: khadeeejathabit@gmail.com

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