DONS EZE, PhD

AMERICA, WETIN DEY SHELE?

A quick rewind to 2015. Nigerians were to elect a new President. The stakes were high. The contest was between the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, and his main challenger, Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Everybody was anxious. They were apprehensive.

Who would carry the day? Many people believed that it would be Jonathan. Why wouldn’t he, after all, he was the incumbent, and in the history of Nigeria, no incumbent had ever lost presidential election.

The incumbent has everything at his beck and call. The electoral umpire is under his firm grip. So also are the police, the army, the secret services, etc. Even if he is unpopular, and people did not vote for him, government agents would still put him back to power, whether by fair or foul means.

Besides, as De Sam Mbakwe once affirmed: “Oke ede eli ife onye mu anya” (The rat does not eat what belongs to a man who is wide awake). Former Governor Sam Mbakwe made the assertion during the 1983 NPN “landslide”, “moonslide” elections. In other words, there was no way President Jonathan, would, with his koro-koro eye, allow anybody to rig him out.

With the conclusion of that election, therefore, many people got glued to their television sets, waiting for the results as would be released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In no time, the results began to trickle in. There was heightened anxiety, apprehension.

But as the results began to come in from different parts of the country, some people became worried, as things were not going the way they had expected. That was when one of President Jonathan’s men who was at the INEC Situation Room, where the results were being released, Peter Goodsday Orubebe, got angry, picked up the microphone, and began to lambast members of the electoral body, for doing “a shoddy job”. He threatened them with fire and brimstone.

Many people had expected Jonathan to toe the same path with Orubebe, follow it up by issuing executive order, to sack all members of the electoral commission, and took charge of affairs. But he did not.

Rather, what Goodluck Jonathan did was to pick up his phone and dialled his main opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, to congratulate him for winning the election. He did this even when the whole results of the election had not come in.

That saved the day. There was no bloodshed as some people had anticipated, or as some prophets of doom had prophesied. A startled Buhari was to confess later that he had never expected to receive any such call from Jonathan!

Conversely, we have been keen watchers of the unfolding events in the United States Presidential Election held a few days ago, where the incumbent President, Donald Trump, had thrown caution to the winds and began to dramatise everything.

First, Donald Trump declared himself elected President, even when ballot papers were still being counted. He went further to ask the court to halt counting of ballot papers in some states where he felt he was not doing well. He alleged that there were malpractices in the exercise.

It is curious that an incumbent President, Donald Trump, would be crying foul, or accusing the opposition of cheating in an election which he conducted. That shows that something was wrong somewhere, or that the man was not really in charge.

Then, following on the heels of Donald Trump who wrongly declared himself elected, United States House Speaker, Pelosi, called Democratic Candidate and Trump’s main challenger, Joe Biden, “President-elect”, when the electoral body had not yet declared anybody winner of the exercise, even though with the results so far released, Biden has an edge over Trump.

Four days after the US Presidential election, uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and apprehension, still pervade the entire landscape of the United States of America, while some people have taken to the streets to express misgivings over what is currently happening in that country.

Before now, we have all looked up to the United States of America as the model of democracy. But with what is happening in that country in the past few days, following the 2020 Presidential Election, we are beginning to think otherwise.

We will however call on the United States of America to borrow a leaf from our own former President Goodluck Jonathan that “nobody’s political ambition will be worth the blood of any citizen”, and that “it is better to gain honour at the cost of losing power”.

Dr. Dons Eze.

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