Voting in Nigeria in 2011 election has exposed the nation as more politically aware and somehow more sophisticated in politics of ideas and real issues when holding an election.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in an unprecedented weird historical record lost the presidential election to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State in Saturday’s presidential election.
Make no mistake. It wasn’t an election victory for PDP, it is the hard fact that Nigerians are now more exposed, more politically aware and somehow more sophisticated in the know about the reality of casting votes for a qualified candidate in an election.
In 2011 presidential election, voters picked Goodluck Jonathan as the right candidate for the presidential running because the voters saw more genuiness of purpose and true passion for the nation in the president.
Even when the ACN lost in Governor Fashola’s polling unit where the PDP polled 141 votes, ACN polled 77 votes, and the CPC polled 90 votes, it is not that the credibility of PDP which has thrown decency into dogs was taken into account. PDP remain a failure in the mind of generality of Nigerians but Lagos rose up above such sentiments.
It was a mere demonstration that the political texture of Nigeria voters are more qualitatively designed now, with people giving better assessment and evaluation to election candidates, far from the previous hero- worship of political parties and reliance on party kingpins’ decisions.
The reality in this election is the fact that Goodluck Jonathan was able to sell himself to the people of Nigeria as a well- meaning and credible political asset to the people.
Then, the issue of Action Congress presidential candidacy which had been left for so long, creating candidacy credibility vacuum and edging out a strategic selling point of the candidate to the generality of Nigerians, especially in the CAN stronghold of South-West Nigeria.
How the voters voted in Lagos: In polling unit 002 in front of Eko Club House, the ACN managed a mere 8 votes, CPC got 30 votes, while PDP trounce them all with 64 votes.
At polling unit 003 on Oyediran Street, ACN polled 26 votes, CPC polled 58 votes, and PDP got a whopping 102 votes. At polling 004, ACN got 25 votes, CPC got 63 votes, and PDP polled 152 votes. At polling unit 005, ACN got 31 votes, CPC got 68 votes, and PDP won with 142 votes.
Same in Tinubu’s ward
The same trend was also observed in Ikeja, where former Governor Tinubu voted. In Mr Tinubu’s polling unit, ACN awkwardly polled 166 votes to beat PDP, which polled 140 votes, by a mere 26 votes. However, the PDP won in all other polling units. In polling unit 008, ACN got 72 votes, CPC got 22 votes, and PDP got 123 votes.
In polling unit 003, PDP polled 64 votes, ACN polled 31 votes, and CPC polled 19. In polling unit 036, ACN polled 44 votes, CPC polled 21 votes, and PDP polled 87. In polling unit 005, ACN polled 18 votes, CPC polled 31 votes, and PDP polled 99 votes. In polling unit 041, ACN polled 37 votes, CPC polled 21 votes, and PDP polled 129 votes.
In polling unit 009, ACN polled 26 votes, CPC polled 21 votes, and PDP polled 99 votes. In another polling unit at Ikeja bus stop, ACN polled 49 votes, CPC polled 2 votes, and PDP polled 96 votes.
A betrayal theory?
There are allegations from Lagos voters that the ACN sold its votes to the PDP. Far from it. Nigeria is evolving politically.
The fact is that Goodluck Jonathan may have got many sympathy votes, considering how he was treated last year by northern cabals especially with consideration that votes for ACN may not achieve any purpose because Nuhu Ribadu may not win the election.
More, Jonathan has made a good record as the most communicating leader that Nigeria ever had. He had laid down his genuine plans in his facebook forum which are constantly highlighted in nationa;l newspapers.
With the bulk of the votes coming from the youths class of the community, it is not unlikely that many have been exposed to the reality of Jonathan’s communication on the facebook as a well meaning Nigerian, with genuine vision, mission and purpose, thereby pushing aside party sentiments and picking up hard realities of genuine and purposeful candidacy which many of the youths saw in Jonathan.
However, early results from some polling centres across the country showed President Goodluck Jonathan and Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) in a tight race in the presidential election across Nigeria on Saturday.
While Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party is believed to be having the upper hand in the South-South, South-East and South-West, Buhari led in many wards in the North-East, North-West and North-Central.
But Buhari, who contested the poll under the umbrella of the Congress for Progressive Change, has already alleged foul play in the conduct of the exercise.
A confident President Goodluck Jonathan, after casting his ballot at Otazi Playground Polling Unit in Otuabula Ward 13, Otuoke Bayelsa State, promised to quit his position as president if he fails to win the election.
Jonathan and Buhari performed excellently well in their wards, while Ribadu and Shekarau were floored in theirs.
For instance, out of the 480 people that were accredited in the Otubula, 413 voted for the President.
Ribadu and Buhari scored no votes. Eleven votes were voided, while the remaining 56 accredited voters left without voting because of the long queue at the center.
Apart from Lagos, President had impressive showing in Ogun, Rivers, Oyo, Plateau, Ekiti and Ondo states, where results from some polling centres indicated that he had the upper hand.
Almost all the results from the South-East had not been made public as at 9 pm on Saturday. But results from three wards in Abia State indicated that Jonathan won in two, while the CPC won in one.
In Sarkin Yara Ward, Buhari, a former Head of State, who on Thursday announced that Saturday’s election would be his last shot at the Presidency, scored 496 votes, while the PDP had no vote. The ANPP scored two and the ACN, two.
The CPC floored the PDP again in Vice-President Namadi Sambo’s polling booth in Kaduna State. It scored 435 votes, while the PDP had 208.
The PDP was said to have lost to the CPC in many polling booths in Kaduna, Katsina, Borno, Kogi, Abuja, Niger, Kano, and Gombe, where results were made public as 8 pm on Saturday.
Ribadu scored only 85 ballots in his ward in Yola town. The CPC had 260 votes, while the PDP had 64 votes.
onathan had while casting his vote promised to use himself as an example to teach sit-tight leaders in Africa that political power belonged to the people.
He said the result of the presidential poll would not cause political mayhem in Nigeria like in Ivory Coast, where Mr. Laurent Gbagbo refused to relinquish power after losing the November 2010 poll.
The President said that for democracy to be consolidated in Nigeria, politicians must learn to respect the power of the ballot.
He warned that democracy would be erected on a weak foundation if politicians attemptted to render the ballot paper useless.
Jonathan, however, said he was happy that the country’s democracy was being consolidated on the power of the ballot, observing that the ongoing elections had restored people’s confidence in the electoral process.
He recalled his involvement in elections conducted in 1999, 2003 and 2007 and concluded that Nigerians had shown more interest and commitment in the 2011 elections than they did in previous ones.
According to him, the massive turnout recorded on Saturday had further emphasised people’s belief in the credibility and transparency of the process.
Describing the conduct of the election as a new dawn in Nigeria, the President who was accompanied by a retinue of security officials said it was high time politicians realised that power belonged to the people.
He said as part of his insistence on a transparent process, he had refused to interfere with the operations of INEC.
Jonathan, who was accompanied by his wife, Patience and his mother, said he gave INEC freedom it required to give Nigerians their chosen leaders.
When asked his opinion about the possibility of a run-off, he prayed against such development, claiming it may not be economically convenient for the nation’s economy.
Referring to the country’s large population and cost of organising another election, he prayed that the winner of the presidential election should emerge in the first ballot.
According to him, deciding the winner in the first ballot would reduce the tension in the country and minimise cost.
He said, “I’m indeed happy that we’re consolidating democracy. Democracy must be built on a solid foundation. Foundation of which democracy is built on is the power of the ballot paper. If the ballot paper means nothing, then there is no democracy. Nigeria is now experiencing true democracy where we the politicians have to go to the people because the power belongs to the people.
“The power does not belong to the politicians. It belongs to the people as expressed in ballot boxes. People have shown high degree of commitment so you can describe it as a new dawn in our political evolution.
“I promised I would contest the election as an incumbent president and I would not influence the electoral process. And that has been demonstrated in previous elections.
“I don’t know whether it will go into run-off. But I pray that we don’t go into such because of its implications. Nigeria is a very big country to conduct another round of election.
“If I lose. I will leave because that is what we are talking about.”
Buhari had before the results started trickling in allegations that thumb-printed ballot papers were airlifted to different states in an attempt to compromise the presidential election.
He claimed that when one of the planes landed at the Katsina Airport, supporters of the CPC were chased away before the ‘consignment’ was off loaded.
“One of such planes came earlier this (Saturday) morning to Katsina airport, and our people were driven away from the airport before the consignment was off loaded and driven straight to the Government House,” he said.
The CPC presidential candidate however said he would not go to court to challenge the outcome of the election.
He stressed, however, that if he was taken to court, his party would rise to defend him.
In Kano, Shekarau said he would accept the outcome of the election so long as it was free, fair and credible.
Shekarau, while speaking with newsmen after casting his vote, advised that the winner and losers should take the result as it is.
“It is normal in any election where two or three people contested, a winner and a loser must emerge,” the Kano state governor said.
At Bako Ward in Yola-South Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Ribadu said he will concede victory to any winner if the process is adjudged to be free and fair.
The ACN candidate, who cast his ballot around 1.15pm, assured Nigerians that he would be the first contestant to congratulate the winner.
“I will be the first person to congratulate the winner. I will be ready to join forces with him to move the country forward,” he added.
The election which witnessed mass turn out of voters in most parts of the country was described by foreign observers as an improvement on the April 9 National Assembly election.
One of the observer groups, the National Democratic Institute, led by a former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark said, “Things seem to be quite orderly.”