8 November 2012

Nigeria: Perspective - Lessons From U.S. Election


The United States presidential election has come and gone, and leaders from Nigeria have started sending congratulatory messages to the winner of the election, President Barrack Obama, incidentally, the incumbent.

While this congratulatory process goes on, I expect Nigerians and our leaders to see beyond the election, sit tight and reflect on the structures that the American government was able to put in place to make the electiona trouble free one.

Everyone now celebrates America as though their kind of electoral process cannot be achieved anywhere in Africa. But I think that Nigerian leaders can attain this if they set their minds to it.

As an accredited journalist covering the election for LEADERSHIP NEWSPAPERS GROUP with Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, my colleague who came from the headquarters in Abuja to assist me, I was able to move round the country and saw the level of decorum that was displayed by the Americans.

The Americans were very coordinated. There was no security presence at the polling booths we visited on the Election Day. Unlike Nigeria where the heavy presence of security agents sometimes prevent voters from exercising their rights, American voters were coordinated, they were orderly, and proved that they do not need security agents because there was nothing like crisis during the voting. Without security agents at the polling booths, American elections still went on very peacefully. My question is, can Nigeria ever hold an election without security agents at polling stations and still have it successfully? This can be done if the leaders are willing to work, but I doubt that they are, of their sinister motives; they prefer to use security agents to threaten oppositions.

Americans also proved that elections can actually and successfully be held without the use of party agents. My colleague and I went round some polling booths and we discovered that although there were no party agents, there were no complaints of rigging after the election, thanks to E-voting in the United States. Nigerian can actually introduce E-voting but will leaders do it without considering their own interests?

One incident that may never be replicated in Nigeria was the spirit of sportsman that was shown by the loser, the candidate of the Republicans, Mitt Romney. He was the first to speak and he wholeheartedly congratulated the winner, President Barrack Obama. Romney did not complain of election malpractices. He did not accuse the ruling party of manipulating the election. But here in Nigeria, even when it becomes very clear to the losers that they cannot even win their ward, they head for the courtroom. I wonder if Nigerians and the leaders can take a clue at this.

Unlike Nigeria where everybody is wary of moving around after election results are announced for fear of post-election crises, everybody both old and young trooped out in multitudes just a minute after the results of the US election were announced, to celebrate the victory of the Democrats because they knew that there would be no post-election crisis.

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