As you read this, the nation is awaiting the results of the presidential election held a day ago – some anxiously, some eagerly, and some with their hearts in their mouths, but all are hopeful for a new dawn because, depending on the results, hopes for a better nation can either be actualised or marred.
There are 18 presidential candidates, out of which we have the “big four”, among whom we expect the next president of Nigeria to emerge. They are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Gregory Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Each of them has his support base and each of them is hopeful of victory. They have traversed the length and breadth of this country in their mobilisation efforts. They have engaged Nigerians in open rallies and town hall meetings, including holding media chats and debates where they told of their intentions when elected. Each of them has journeyed over the oceans and parlayed with the Americans and Europeans, those whom we copy our systems of governments from and look towards for approval.
Our prayer should be: may the best among them win, because all of them are good in their ways and each has a track record worth commending.
Tinubu of the APC has been acclaimed for improving Lagos and identifying outstanding talents for public office, among whom is Yemi Osinbajo.
Atiku Abubakar, too, has been credited with creating institutions and building men, notable among whom is Nasir el-Rufa’i.
Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso had developed Kano and educated as well as developed men, among whom is Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
Peter Obi has shown prudence while he was the governor of Anambra State and God knows Nigeria needs a prudent leader.
Therefore, any who emerges among these four giants should be okay. Those who say a Fulani – even though they are ignorant of the fact that both Atiku and Kwankwaso are not Fulani – should not be president twice because Buhari has done it, refuse to acknowledge that Asiwaju and Olusegun Obasanjo are both Yorubas.
If we have refused to acknowledge that if the turn is the South’s, then it should be the South East’s turn, then we should not raise any dust whoever emerges as president.
There is nothing religious about any of the tickets or candidates. To begin with, any position that is Islamic will not be contested for by a Christian and vice versa. And this is why no Muslim president will begin minuting on a file with the name of Allah or a Christian in the name of Jesus. Each one of them will preside over Nigeria according to the dictates of the constitution, nothing more, nothing less.
The two leading Muslim contenders have all identified with Christians. For instance, Atiku Abubakar has praised the agenda for national development brought to him by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) while Tinubu has assuaged their fears over the Muslim-Muslim ticket by telling Christians that his wife is a pastor and some of his children are Christians. His running mate, Kashim Shettima, had earlier told Muslims that their interests would be taken care of by the Sultan of Sokoto while saying he had rebuilt thousands of churches as well as taken thousands of Christians to Jerusalem.
Therefore, we should not allow ourselves to love or fight for any of them based on their ethnicity or religion because none of these defines any of them.
When our candidate wins, we should not jubilate to the extent of touching on the raw nerves of those whose candidates lost. And if our candidate loses, that should not infuriate us to the extent of taking it out on those celebrating.
In whatever we do, we should be mindful that the politicians — both losers and winners — have a way of making up, patching ruptured relationships and coming together for their good, or the nation’s, whichever.
The average person who will fight his friends, neighbours and family will in the end be the one at the receiving end and he may even lose his life in the process. And the world wouldn’t pause on its track or look back when that happened.
Therefore, what we must avoid are two things: fake news and those who may not accept the results based on their expectations that may not have conformed to reality.
And this is where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should help by promptly announcing authentic results as they come in. It should give no room for doubt or controversies in any of its activities.
The media, too, has a responsibility to do all they can not to stoke the embers of discord and anarchy in the land. News reports need to be sieved to keep out all that can cause disaffection. They should not publish unauthenticated results for whatever reasons. Social media netizens should try as much as possible to be patriotic by being more responsible in the way they handle election results; everything should be about national interest.
But for our gallant security agencies, perhaps there would be no Nigeria by now. Now is also their time. They have been called to duty again, and they are required and expected, as always, to protect and be there for us and our dear country.
What is incumbent upon us is to pray to our creator to give us peace and stability and anoint for us the best as He sees fit from among the contestants, and not necessarily as we feel. And we should accept His choice through the thumbprints of the majority.
However, if we close our eyes to the truth and, for some untenable sentiments, use our thumbs to elect the unfit, then I leave us with Abraham Lincoln’s statement: “Elections belong to the people; it’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” And they will, probably, for eight years.
Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.