Election Results:

Eventually, the 2023 general elections have come and gone. The winners have emerged as well as gallant losers. Like the previous elections in the country, it was a potpourri of interesting and bizarre episodes. The elections witnessed the good, the very bad and the ugly. Political periods in Nigeria always brings out the best and unfortunately the beasts in all of us. Politicians manipulated their supporters and took advantage of the national fault lines to play divisive politics and fan the embers of violence. This election to say the least was highly manipulated and fraught with irregularities. It revealed the tomfoolery of some respected elders and prominent figures who in the face of obvious rascality have failed to stand by the truth. People took sides based on religion, ethnicity and region. It was so sad!

The above notwithstanding, below are considered major take aways from the elections. First, was that it is no longer business as usual. The people have recorganised the enormous political powers at their disposal and have wielded same. Second, despite the fact that the popular wishes of the people were thwarted in some cases, it has been established that the people are now a major force to reckon with in our electoral process. The political consciousness of the people have risen proportionately and the momentum will not die down soon. Third, the introduction of Biometric Verification Accreditation System (BVAS) was the icing on the cake. Technology has tightened loose ends of the process while guaranteeing transparency of the electoral process. Elections are monitored real time unlike before while results are transmitted or uploaded for the public access. Fourth, BVAS added more credibility to the slow but steady electoral fortunes recorded since 1999. If not some big political shocks recorded would not have been possible. This goes to show that most winners in the previous elections are losers who took advantage of their influences and power to rig and turn results in their own favour. Fifth, deployment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission personnel to polling units to forestall vote buying and other financial transactions was commendable. Sixth, Nigerians should be hailed for their tenacity and resilience in resisting attempts to compromise the process and for insisting that the right thing must be done. Seventh, the civil society organisations through advocacy, knowledge sharing, mobilisation and sensitisation brought the messages home to the electorates and contributed largely-rightly to influencing the decision making process of the people.

Conversely, there are many obvious sad reminders of the elections. First, the ethnic profiling and stereotype of Igbo people especially in Lagos. This resulted to threats to their lives, several attacks, prevention from voting for their preferred candidates and destruction of their properties. It was a sad reminder of how low Nigeria has descended. The arrow heads and masterminds of this onslaughts are known. But they walk the streets of Lagos like kings. Second, the peace accord signed by politicians was flagrantly violated. The voting rights of many Nigerians were suppressed or out rightly denied. Politicians understood that the level of their excesses have been curtailed; thus they resorted to voter intimidation to scare people from voting especially in areas they are unpopular. Third, manifest thuggery and ballot snatching in Lagos, Kano and Rivers states were rife. These were plans to shortchange opponents who are winning or force the unit to be cancelled. Fourth, unscrupulous politicians had also attempted to manipulate or bypass the BVAS. They seized the machine using thugs to completely frustrate, stop the election from holding or for the purpose of recording only the votes they imputed for their candidates. Fifth, vote buying in the guise of gifts were the order of the day. These despicable acts were carried out by hoodlums or politicians themselves in the full glare of the security agencies, with their tacit support or in connivance with them. The relevant security agencies should investigate these infractions and bring perpetrators to book.

Poverty has been weaponised; thus an average Nigerian is interested in what to get, eat from the politicians rather than stand for credible elections and quality representation. Unfortunately, citizens have failed time and time again to hold leaders accountable. Labour Party, Peoples Democratic Party and others have already filed petitions challenging the outcome of the Presidential Election while some aggrieved governorship candidates are dissatisfied with the results are gearing up for legal fireworks at the state tribunals. It is the tradition in Nigeria to challenge the outcome of elections in Nigeria.

What next after the elections? Beating the drums of peaceful co-existence is key. We must all be law abiding and responsible citizens. No to violence! The essence of political contestation is to determine the best preferred out of many. It deepens our democratic processes by giving the people a wide range of options to choose from. The country remains ours and all hands must be on deck to make it work to the benefit of all. The contestants who lost and their supporters are all patriotic Nigerians as much as the winners. All meant well for the nation but in different ways, platforms, capacities and strategies. It is time to begin the healing process. The winners at both levels of contest should set up machinery for genuine reconciliation. The loser today may be the celebrant tomorrow. Kano and Abia states are typical examples of the dynamism in political choices. That was why the winner should be magnanimous in victory. Finally, we have all made our political choices. It was my right to do so and yours too. We differed in opinions, perceptions and understanding in our choices for who or what we believe in. However, it does not take away the Nigerian-ness in us. Your candidate won but mine lost or vice-versa. Life goes on. Politics is a game. Elections as usual produces winners and at the same time losers. In the long run, the corollaries of our actions and the eventual decisions taken on our behalf by those we put forward to govern whether good or bad will directly impact all of us the same way. For many Nigerians, there is no victor – and no vanquished. While it is time to mend broken fences, justice should be served those cheated out of the race!

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