8 November 2012

Nigeria: Jonathan, NASS, Labour, NBA, CPC - We Have Lessons to Learn From U.S. Election

Reactions from different quarters have continued to trail the victory of President Barack Obama in the hotly contested US presidential election. Congratulatory messages have not stopped pouring in from world leaders including Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan who said Obama's victory is a well deserved one that speaks volumes about his leadership, progressive world view and his effort in putting to an end the global economic depression.

Special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, noted in a statement that millions of people across the world "especially those in developing nations who watched the beauty and strength of democracy unfold in the United States presidential elections yesterday will come to a greater and better appreciation of democracy as the key to building peaceful, stable and progressive societies".

The statement made available to LEADERSHIP reads in part: "On behalf of himself, the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan heartily congratulates President Barack Obama on his success in winning re-election in yesterday's presidential elections in the United States.

"President Jonathan welcomes President Obama's victory in an intensely fought presidential race as an endorsement by the good people of the United States of his leadership, progressive world view and the very good work he has done in the past four years towards ending global economic depression and fostering global peace and security.

"Nigeria, the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union enjoyed very cordial and productive relations with the Obama Administration in his first term; President Jonathan looks forward to continuing to build on Nigeria's and Africa's developmental collaboration with the United States in the next four years.

"The President looks forward in particular to the further strengthening of US-Nigeria bilateral relations and the US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission which was established in President Obama's first term as the primary platform for the promotion of greater trade and economic cooperation between both countries as well as bilateral collaboration in other areas.

"The President wishes President Obama continued good health and God's blessings and guidance as he prepares for his inauguration in January for a second term in office as the President of the United States of America."

The Senate

The Senate yesterday described the victory of Obama as a challenge to Nigeria.

Addressing newsmen at the end of plenary, Senate's spokesman Enyinnaya Abaribe described the process that culminated in Obama's election as a lesson and inspiration for the political class.

"We can draw so many lessons and inspiration from the victory. For me, the most important one is that some barriers are currently being broken. No part of this country should be excluded from leadership. Everybody has something to offer. The choice and the will of the people must be sacrosanct and nothing like imposition or selection of candidates from behind.

"You can see that the candidates emerged through a thorough primary process from which the best candidate emerged to present the people with clear and competent alternative choice. It is a very good lesson that must inspire us," Abaribe said.

Also, the Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, in his reaction hoped that Africans would receive better attention in Obama's second term than it got in the first.

House of Reps

For its part, the House of Representatives yesterday congratulated President Obama on his "historic" election. House speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said, "The House of Representatives has taken note of this historic election and hereby congratulates him (Obama) and wish him a successful tenure."

A motion moved by Friday Itulah (Edo/PDP) at Wednesday's plenary on Obama's victory urged Nigeria to learn lessons from the outcome of the US elections.

Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnenna Ukeje, Abike Dabri-Erewa (Lagos/ACN) and House minority whip Samson Osagie (Edo/ACN) chorused that the outcome of the US presidential election should be adopted as best practice and a source of inspiration for the Nigerian electorate and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).


Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president Chief Okey Wali (SAN) said, "I am highly impressed with the gracious manner Romney conceded defeat and congratulated Obama. He went on even praying for Obama and his country, the USA. It is this form of political culture I have kept on advocating for Nigerian politicians to imbibe or cultivate.

"If it were in Nigeria, by now some politicians might have called out his supporter on the street to protest against Obama's victory.

This is the greatest lesson for Nigerian politicians: to be magnanimous in defeat, concede defeat even for the sake of our integrity and nation's image.

Also, a former NBA president, Mr. Thompson Okpoko (SAN), in his reaction said, "The greatest problem with Nigeria is that no one is prepared to learn any lesson. We all appreciate the value of free and fair election. Our leaders passionately talk about promises to ensure free and fair elections. Yet, the more they swear to high heavens to do that, the more they greedily rig the elections.

The problem is with both the beneficiaries and victims of rigged elections. We are damn too far from learning any lesson from electoral culture in the USA. So much is wrong with our system which even demand surgical operation not only to make elections free and fair but to be seen as such."


Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) yesterday urged Nigeria to emulate the United States' electoral model by conducting free, fair and credible election in Nigeria.

FCT chairman of TUC Comrade Aliyu Abdul, while speaking on President Obama's re-election, said it's only when an election is free and fair that the loser can congratulate the winner like the case of Mitt Romney of the Republican Party.

He said that, despite the tough electioneering campaign, a winner emerged at the end of the poll.

Comrade Aliyu expressed concern that in Nigeria politicians are already plotting to rig the 2015 election, stressing that "you don't expect anyone that will lose a rigged election to congratulate the perpetrators".


The Peoples Democratic Party asked politicians in the country to emulate the attitude of the Republican candidate in the just concluded United States presidential election, Mr. Mitt Romney, in his swift congratulation of the re-elected Obama.

National publicity secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement said "the swift manner of congratulations and the graceful conduct of the defeated candidate is a shining example of patriotism and submission to the overall will of the people. This act, according to the PDP, is one of the elements that have made America's democracy the envy of all nations".

While urging Nigerians to take a cue from Romney's act, he said "the greatest threat to the stability of our democracy is the reckless bickering that happens after elections in Nigeria. A lot of time and energy is decimated on frivolous legal suits and the pursuit of bitterness which indeed affects valuable time for the delivery of electoral promises.

"The PDP is particularly delighted at the conciliatory posture of President Obama and his emphasis on the values that unite America rather than the divisions that manifested during the campaign".

"President Obama's constant reference to patriotism and a sense of duty to America by Americans in his acceptance speech is another lesson we must imbibe in our quest to build our democracy. With this election, America has once more blazed the trail in overcoming its internal stratifications for the overall benefit of their country," Chief Metuh said.


The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) yesterday called on the federal government to conduct a free and fair election in the country and watch the losers congratulating the winners as it is happening in the United States.

Despite the closeness of the result and some hiccups in some states, Mitt Romney has congratulated the re-elected President Obama, wishing him success in his second term.

In a telephone chat yesterday, the spokesman of the party, Lai Mohammed, argued that until problems associated with our election which lead to the attendant rejection of the outcomes are addressed, the losers would refuse to congratulate the winner.

Said he, "When there is a level playing field for all contestants and it is apparently clear that the election was free and fair, whoever is the loser would accept defeat and congratulate the winner, but in a situation where the election was neither free nor fair, the loser would never congratulate whoever is declared the winner."

Speaking further, Mohammed faulted those asking the politicians to learn from their American counterparts in accepting defeat honourably, reminding them that it was because there was a level playing field that makes that happen in the US.

"People are saying go and learn from America, go and learn from America, but have they forgotten that American system does not encourage rigging or manipulations which characterise our own? The results of their elections reflect the true position of things and this makes it easier for the losers to congratulate the winners."

Asked if there is nothing the politicians themselves could learn from the American election 2012, Mohammed said there is none.

He recalled with nostalgia the June 12, 1993, presidential poll won by the late business mogul, Bashorun Moshood Abiola, and asked the electoral umpire to borrow a leaf from the annulled poll.


The Congress for Progressive Change's national publicity secretary, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, said in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP that the leadership of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), should be ashamed of themselves as they had always failed to learn from the world's most dynamic democracy whose electoral process is not a do or die affair.

Fashakin said: "The ruling PDP leaders should be ashamed of themselves. The electoral in the US is devoid of the do-or-die philosophy of the forebears of the PDP. It's another pointer to the worthlessness of the PDP rule in the country.

Ordinarily, electoral contest having been conducted with scrupulous adherence to governing rules should be devoid of acrimony and bitterness as seen in the US presidential elections."

Blair, CD congratulate Obama on re-election

Former British prime minister, Mr. Tony Blair, also joined others to rejoice with the president of the United States of America (USA), Mr. Barack Obama, on his re-election.

While Blair in a tweet from Jerusalem on Wednesday felicitated with Obama on the victory, one of the country's major civil society groups, the Campaign for Democracy (CD), in a statement, also yesterday, described the event as a triumph of focused leadership.

Blair in the tweet obtained by LEADERSHIP wrote, "I would like to extend my congratulations and good wishes to President Obama on his re-election. I have enormous respect for the President and have always valued our meetings and discussions, particularly on finding a pathway to peace in the Middle East.

"I look forward to continuing to work with the President and other world leaders towards real progress in this region in the months and years to come. This issue remains as urgent as ever."

For its part, the CD in the statement endorsed by its president, Dr. Okei-Odumakin, wrote that the re-election is a testimony to the triumph of vision and focus. It urged the Nigerian political elites to imbibe them.

I will work with Romney - Obama

In a sweeping victory speech early Wednesday morning, United States president Barack Obama has thanked every American who voted for him in Tuesday's presidential election, vowing to work with leaders from both parties to tackle the country's challenges.

"Our economy is recovering, a decade of war is ending, a long campaign is now over," he told a crowd of cheering supporters in Chicago. "And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you have made me a better president." Obama added he has "never been more hopeful about America. We're not as divided as our politics suggest. We remain more than a collection of blue states and red states."

Romney had earlier conceded in Boston in a speech he made around 1am ET. "Like so many of you, Paul [Ryan] and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign," Romney said. "I so wish that I had been able to fulfil your hopes to lead your country in another direction. But the nation chose another leader." Romney congratulated the president and his campaign on their victory.

The Romney campaign's last-ditch attempt to put blue-leaning Midwestern swing states in play failed as Obama's Midwestern firewall sent the president back to the White House for four more years.

Obama picked up the swing states of New Hampshire, Michigan, New Mexico, Iowa, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Ohio. Of the swing states, Romney picked up only North Carolina.

The strategies that worked for Obama - LEADERSHIP Special

Meanwhile, political analysts in the US have been postulating about how Obama pulled off a victory without losing a single 'battleground state' and winning virtually all the large urban areas in these states.

For Obama, the advantage came in focusing on demographic changes in several states, which allowed him to get the support of minority groups and seek votes in heavily populated urban areas with diverse ethnic make-up.

His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney had only one strategy, which was to rely on the white majority that made up 74 percent of the electorate to give him enough votes to get him to the White House.

President Obama was also able to win

While some 120 million American voters were registered to vote, Obama was able to get 39 percent of white votes, 90 percent of the votes from African Americans and 71 percent of Hispanic votes.

Paul Steinhauser, CNN political editor said, "The national exit polls tell the story. Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the population. Their share of the vote expanded from 9 per cent in 2008 to 10 per cent in this election. The president won 67 per cent of the vote four years ago. He increased that to 71 per cent this year.

"Latinos were crucial in helping Obama win the battleground states of Colorado and Nevada, and in putting the president in the lead for Florida's 29 electoral votes. And they were just as important in turning the former swing state of New Mexico into what appears to be an increasingly safe state for the Democrats."

Voting trends from previous elections show that Hispanics are the fastest growing voting group and Obama's win in Colorado gives an example of how this changing demography played into the Obama campaign strategy.

Available statistics also showed that the size of white voters has been shrinking at a rate of 3 to 4 percent between every election cycle. Exit polls showed that the make-up of 18-29 year olds increased from 17 per cent to 18 per cent of the electorate from 2004 to 2008. They made up 19 per cent of the electorate in Tuesday's election.

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