Presidential elections have been the most contentious in the history of the country since 1923 when the electoral principle was introduced. In 1979, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2003 and 2007, Nigerians were accorded the right to choose their chief executives.
The polls were largely regarded as flawed. Another opportunity beckoned last Saturday. What is the emerging pattern? What next for those who failed the test? President Goodluck Jonathan is on the way to being crowned, what is the task before him? How he won the race and a comparison to previous polls are presented here.
"Certainly, it is not for fun that this man was named, Goodluck. I bet you, I’m naming my coming grandson, Goodluck!” The man, who appeared obviously in his 60s, said in gripping emphasis. It was around noon yesterday when the results of last Saturday’s presidential poll started trickling in.
It was in Mushin area of Lagos State. The news was already well spread that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan looked pretty good to carry the day. Even the jaws of the most obstinate doubting Thomas dropped.
Of course, they had a point. The President’s road to his emergence as candidate at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries was thorny, though not without an inscrutable hand. Among his fierce opposition were those who believed it was the turn of the North to produce president after the death of ex-President Umaru Yar’Adua. In a manner that perhaps still remains a mystery to many, he weathered the storm to have a beautiful laugh.
Just as Baba Teacher noted, Nigerians who were yearning for a change through the 2011 elections jumped for joy when leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the nation’s leading opposition party entered into negotiation with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Their mission: To coalesce into a force formidable enough to beat the PDP into total surrender at the polls. As the plot was being “cooked,” the president’s “lucky head” was in action, so to say.
Nigerians who had expected a fruitful outcome of the merger plan got the shock of their lives; it collapsed. The parties involved could not agree on terms; consequently, they went back their own ways.
Long before Providence led him into Aso Rock, the nation’s seat of power, the President had an experience that had convinced many that leadership positions had always fallen on his lap “by default and not by plans.”
While he was deputy governor in Bayelsa, his home state, under ex-Governor Dipreye Alamieseigha, Jonathan nurse no such ambition to overthrow his boss. But then came his “good luck” in full action. His boss ran into troubled waters. Alamieseigha did not survive his ordeal with the law; in no time, he became a has-been. Thus, naturally, he became the state’s number-one man.
It was the same curious manner he succeeded his boss, the late Yar ‘Adua after the demise of the latter after a protracted illness. Ever since, tongues have been waging as to how luck had been shaping the course of his political career.
Now, he has had a clear lead in last Saturday’s presidential poll, thanks to the overwhelming goodwill he enjoyed from voters, even in unlikely areas including the South-West, the stronghold of the progressives. The baton for the leadership of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, now seems resting firmly in his palm.
The question in most lips now is: Will he live up to expectation and give Nigerians people-oriented leadership or bungle the opportunity to write his name in gold in the nation’s annals? Time will certainly tell.