Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: The Thrills of Obama's Historic Victory

As supporters of the Democratic party and President Barack Obama gathered at Times Square on November 6 to support their hero, watchers of United States election night 2012 miles away were not left out of the drama as they were treated to a cocktail of fun for over 300 people invited to Eko Hotel and Suits, Victoria Island, Lagos.

It was an eventful all night package that featured mock voting by the guests, made up of politicians, journalists, students, members of civil society and religions group. There were round table discussions by selected youth leaders. Among the guests were the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the wife of Ekiti State Governor and Mrs. Olabisi Fayemi, who made political presentations of the electoral process in Nigeria to spice up the night. There were musical presentations by Yemi Sax, Sound Sultan, Timi Dakolo.

Ali Baba and Seyi Ojo who were Masters of Ceremony kept the crowd laughing through the tense wait for the US election results. Their act was complemented by the documentary and explanations of the processes in US political process by the Head of Political and Economic Department, Mr. Rolf Olson.

Mr. Olson took the audience through every bit of US political process with a slide presentation that kept the audience wrapped with attention for over one hour.

US election and Nigeria

For those of us in Nigeria, US election is a political extravaganza, a spectacle of adherence to laid down rules and regulations, an excursion into a political history that has lasted for 235 years and citizens participation in selecting men and women that understands the true meaning of public service. The American democracy has become a spectacle for global audience, which follows every speech and every debate. The first presidential debate on October 3, became a game changer for Romney as he performed incredibly well, to shock Barack Obama and build momentum for the election. Mr. Rolf Olson, who heads the political and Economic department of the US Consulate in Nigeria, told Vanguard that the concession speech is a sign that the battle is over and the acceptance speech is used to heal all wounds and galvanise Americans to rally round and face the challenges of nation buildings.It was the 57th US presidential election and the incumbent Barack Hussein Obama, is the 45th occupant of such an office. The election night has also become a global culture where the US missions around the world invite citizens of their host countries to participate and learn first hand how democracy works in God's own country.

Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who was the special guest of the night drew parallels between election in the United States and in Nigeria. The governor who won his re-election on October 14, 2012 said one critical feature in Nigeria electoral landscape is the attitude of the president of Nigeria.

According to Dr. Mimiko, "one of the fundamental reasons that made a free and fair election possible in Ondo State was the attitude of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who had earlier vowed to uphold the integrity and sanctity of the ballot. This gave a lot of confidence to the process. We know that the presidency has enormous influence on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).The president kept that promise and his Party , the PDP wasted no time in congratulating the winner."

According to Dr. Mimiko, it is the attitude of the president that sets the tone for electoral contest in Nigeria.The "do or die" syndrome, to run for public office was another issue that Dr. Mimiko talked about, while in the case of the US has no national electoral body and each state has its own electoral rules and regulations. The states are allocated state elections to the congress, based on the result of the National Census.

According to Mr. Olfson, while states that gain population gain electors, those who demographic grow shrinks, lose the electoral power. The electors are the ones that elect the president through an indirect process.

The security agencies and these are the key players that determines the outcome of election in Nigeria.

The method of funding elections between Nigeria and US are miles apart and this is one area the electorates in Nigeria must ask themselves some hard questions. In America We see politicians raise funds through friends, supporters and corporate groups, there are limits and close scrutiny of sources of funds. In Nigeria we see political aspirants spend their personal funds and fortunes to aspire for public offices. In both countries the results are different. The political process and practice in Nigeria is riddled with corruption and abuse of power, in America, the citizens have greater control on their elected public officers.

The Cable News Nework's (CNN) of the result started around 2A.M when the polls from the East coast, earlier devastated by Hurricane Sandy, began to tumble in. This created anxiety among the watchers as Mitt Romney seemed to have the upper hand at first. In the mock election conducted by the US consulate officials, Obama won over 200 vote against three votes received by Romney.

Jubilation broke out at the Chicago office of Obama/Biden campaign organisation and watchers of the election at home and election watch centres set up by the US embassies and Consulates were filled with instantaneous joy as soon as the results from the West Coast States of California, Colorado, Washington states were declared in favour of Obama giving him over eighty five electoral, but the worse was still to come for the Romney campaign when the result from Wisconsin and Iowa went in favour of the Obama campaign.

Bad Night for Romney

The night came to a joyful close for Obama, as he won the elections both on the grounds of the electoral votes and the popular votes putting to rest earlier projections that he might not win the popular votes.The results from Mitt Romney's state of Massachusetts also went awry as he lost his own state. The Ohio result may be disputed as the aides to Romney said he is delaying his concession speech.

As expected, Ohio proved to be the battleground and the determiner of the winner of the election as both candidates ran a close neck to neck in the voting but Obama won with the early voting in the State. The result from Florida was suspended at the time of this report as the electoral authorities needed time to tally the absentee voting.

Issues that made the difference

President Obama won over 40% of whites, although less 3points than he did in 2008 while African American voted 80% in support of President Obama. About 75% of Latinos in America help President Obama cost home to victory just as he got about 55% support from women across board. Also, same sex marriage contributed a lot to Obama's victory. Votes from each state has shown gay marriage couples gave their votes to President Obama. For example in a state like Maryland, 52% of gay couples supported Obama.

Rape

As expected, women showed their political strength when they punished Republican Party contestant for Missouri U.S. Senate candidate, Todd Akin for saying that women have natural defenses against pregnancy from "legitimate rape." Another Republican Party candidate for the Senate seat in Indiana, Richard Murdock was stopped from going to the Senate for saying that that pregnancy from rape was "something that God intended to happen." Tea Party politician John Koster, who is the Republican nominee for a hotly contested congressional seat in Washington state, joined the fray when he said that he opposed abortions, even in cases of "the rape thing," because it is tantamount to inflicting "more violence onto a woman's body." It was as if the Republican Party candidates for the Senate were out to ruin Mitt Romney 's shifty stance on pro-life issues.

GAY MARRIAGE

Despite earlier fears that President Obama's stance on the same sex , or civic unions was going to cost Obama valuable votes in the election, it turned out that that most conservatives, Evangelical Christian and African - Americans found highly repulsive and the idea of President Barack Obama signing the bill into a law late last year has continued to cost him some headache. Same sex marriage contributed a lot to Obama's victory.

Race

According to Mr. Kunle Adekoya, the election result shows that Americans abhor any attempt to play up racism or to exploit racism for political advantages in contemporary American.

"With a whooping 303 electoral votes and popular votes of over two million, Obama's victory was beyond doubt and that shows a wide acceptance of Obama by people from all strata of America." It also must be said that Bill Clinton is a statesman of all time as his presence in the Obama campaign helped to neutalise all forms of racial bounding.

About 87% of Americans believed President Obama handled the devastation of Hurricane Sandy well, a situation which caused a major problem within the GOP party to Obama's advantage.

Also, the early voting process was a major advantage for President Obama. His campaign used the early voting machinery to get ahead in swing states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia.

Former President Clinton as well played a major role in Obama's victory. Clinton campaigned in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio. Obama won all the swing states despite a major fight between him and Romney. Presently as it is, Republicans still controls the House while Democrats still lead in the Senate.

How Romney lost

Mitt Romney from against all odds gave his concession speech and congratulated President Obama. He fought a serious battle using race as a factor among the whites to run President Obama down in all ramifications. His plan during the campaigns was he could used the issue of economy, un-employment rate to find his way to the White House. His campaign had thought even if Obama wins Ohio, once Republican party could take Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where Paul Ryan comes for, it would be possible to neutralize Ohio which already shows Obama was leading during the Early voting.

Unfortunately, the calculation was wrong as Obama won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire early enough to show Obama is likely to win the elections.

A statement credited to him that that he only cared about 47percent of Americans was also a setback for him as well as lying to the electorates in Ohio that Jeep is shipping jobs to China, all these backfired as it all turned out to a lie after all. The coming of Sandy was another setback for Romney because a Republican Governor of New Jersey had to quit politics and told the world how good and responsive Obama was during their plight. The few days the storm lasted did not give Romney the opportunity of attacking the President the more because both candidates had to face nation building.

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