New York Times editorial piece on Nigeria’s Miserable Choices caught my attention a few weeks back. As Nigerian Americans, we continue to welcome the international community’s focus on the upcoming elections. In spite of the expressed disappointments and the alleged and covert reasons for the delay, the new date is here upon us.
President Jonathan Goodluck and his challenger, Mr. Buhari, must exercise their claimed influence and popularity to foster peaceful and legitimate elections in Nigeria. They both must prepare to lose.
There’ve been some defensive responses, but this is no longer the time for platitudes. We need transparency and accountability. In addition to the good faith gesture from Secretary John Kerry in his visit to Nigeria, President Obama has lent his voice to a call for peace.
It’s a few days to the elections but a lot can still be done. To allay fears and tension, to foster a peaceful and transparent process and outcomes, the leaders must do their part.
Making comparisons between Pres. Obama and Pres. Goodluck’s job approval ratings is highly unproductive. On the contrary, Nigeria should be comparing peaceful elections in the West and the pitiful track record of many African countries.
The Nigeria media should run continuously images and news stories of peaceful elections from more mature democracies from around the world. Nigeria and much of Africa can do well to emulate these.
The electorate and followers of both candidates especially must see these images of peaceful elections and handovers as the only options because no one deserves to die just so someone else can retain or get into power.
It’s instructive that both candidates prepare for whatever the outcome is. In fact, both candidates, as much as they are preparing to win, should also be prepared to lose. The mindset to concede is as much a mark of leadership, patriotism, and love for country as is winning. Both the former General and the incumbent must prepare themselves to lead as victors but more importantly, they must also prepare to lead their followers to lose. Otherwise, there is a process for redress that is not violent. Somebody has to concede for the sake of peace. For the sake of country. Will the real leaders of Nigeria now come forth?