Waiting for Mr. President

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Atiku and Buhari

Coming from the experience of last week, the entire nation is currently on tenterhooks as they await results of yesterday’s rescheduled presidential and national assembly elections, writes Olawale Olaleye

Last week’s postponement of the general election offered some sorts of resets for the nation’s political and electoral process – both negative and positive. While some would think the decision by INEC’s leadership was instructive to prevent the unintended from happening, there were those who thought that such a last-minute postponement was indicative of INEC’s seeming incompetence.

Whatever it was, those elections were cancelled and yesterday, the rescheduled ones were held across the country. Whilst INEC reiterated the fact that yesterday’s elections were adequately prepared for, boasting the confidence of a good delivery, the result of its efforts is yet to be officially announced.

Thus, later this evening or at the very latest, by noon tomorrow, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would release significantly the results of yesterday’s presidential and national assembly elections.

The elections, being the first bout of the series that is to continue on March 2nd and 9th respectively, are the most important, because they involve election into the nation’s top job as well as those at the national assembly, who are local development allies of the executive arm of government.

It’s been a long way coming before arriving at this juncture, which puts everyone on tenterhooks especially, when last week’s postponement, is factored into account.

The presidential bout, curiously, was an election that restricted choices of the Nigerian people to between the next level exponents and the champions of making Nigeria work again.

As it is common knowledge, the choice between the Peoples Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar and the All Progressives Congress’ Muhammadu Buhari is not a very exciting let alone pleasant one. Indeed, it appears more like a re-enactment of the 2015 experience. Often described as one between two evils, identifying the lesser one, however, was the main task of yesterday’s election.

Certainly, it goes without saying that yesterday’s elections were largely trapped by many of the indicators that ultimately informed the eventual choice of the 2015 election, between the incumbent, Buhari and former president Goodluck Jonathan.

And since yesterday’s election had been trailed by different polls, nearly all of which predicted that the former vice-president, Atiku would win, first by 8 per cent and subsequently by 14 and 21 per cent, the election was naturally heated and competitive.

Although those managing Buhari had refused to buy such verdicts, they also showed off other projections that equally tipped their candidate as likely to win yesterday’s election. In all, the truth of the polls would manifest in the next few hours, when results of the elections would be formerly and officially released.

It is worthy of mention that the issues defining the 2015 elections were tactically reduced to a tripod of the economy, security and corruption, albeit for strategic emphasis and ease of political communication, which by implications challenged the ability of the Jonathan administration to address the core of demands for good governance.

But this year, there was a rather short walk to the issues, largely controlled by the simple narrative of capacity and the unity of Nigeria, going forward. It was kept simple and short.

Atiku, for obvious reasons, had secured crucial endorsements from the least likely and very important quarters in the run-up to the polls, the same way Buhari stole the momentum from Jonathan and became the issue in the countdown to 2015.

Of course, as the incumbent, the same way Jonathan was goaded on even in the face of imminent defeat in 2015, Buhari’s handlers did not see the extrapolations as genuine and had therefore dismissed Atiku’s alleged momentum, including the polls as insignificant to the factors that would determine the votes.

It is trite to assume now that those nuances may not be relevant anymore. The elections had come and gone, the results are what are being awaited now. If Atiku eventually wins as being projected, it would mean that the mudslinging notwithstanding, the Nigerian people resolved to choose the lesser evil by embracing the “let’s get Nigeria working again” slogan.

On the contrary, if Buhari was re-elected, it would mean also that the people were not only comfortable with the evil they had known for quite a while, but that they also believe that his combination could actually take the country to the next level.

However, while the choice of the eventual winner is germane to the future of the nation, a summary of the choice would simply mean that the Nigerian people believe ultimately in the individual and his capacity to turn things around, either Buhari or Atiku, for as long as the process is free, fair and credible.