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article imageOp-Ed: Nigeria - what next?

By Donna Murphy     Apr 19, 2011 in Politics
As the results are coming in to the INEC in Abuja, observers and even Nigerian's themselves have been reporting that this election is the best they have ever known in the country, violence has begun to flare up in the north of the country.
The INEC Chairman, Mr Jega, at 8.32 pm on Monday,(18 April 2011) declared the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, President Goodluck Jonathan as the winner of Saturday's Presidential election. Jega also said that with regards to the requirement of the Electoral Act, for a candidate to emerge as the winner, he must score a minimum of 25% in two thirds of the 36 states.
The ACN candidate, Ribadu scored, 25% in 4 states, the CPC candidate, Buhari scored 25% in 16 states, the PDP candidate scored 25% in 31 states.
It looks like the joy of the Nigerian people will be short lived. Reports are coming in of violence and bombing in the north. A suspected bomber has died at a polling unit in Unguwar Doki, near the Monday market in Maidguriu, Borno state. He was trying to detonate the bomb when he blew himself up accidentally, an unspecified number of people were injured in the blast. According to another report, riots swept across the Muslim north, leaving buildings ablaze and people hiding in their homes, highlighting the religious and ethnic tensions still dividing Africa's most populous nation. Violence echoed across thirteen states with heavy gunfire echoing through cities. Many were feared dead although officials declined to offer any figures for fear of further stroking tensions.
In a televised address to the nation late Monday, Goodluck Jonathan called on Nigerians to "quickly move" away from partisan battlegrounds and find a national common ground. "Nobody's political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian," he said.
Goodluck Jonathan only took office last year after the country's elected Muslim president died from a lengthy illness before his term ended. Many in the north still believe the ruling party should have put up a Muslim candidate in this year's elections.
Despite the overwhelming feeling that the results were correct, (from the evidence we have at present) only the PDP have signed off the results. Both Buhari's party and the ACN opposition party refused to sign off the results. The CPC formally asked the INEC to cancel the presidential elections in the South-South, South-East and some states in the far North and the middle belt. In a petition by the CPC's Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, the party wants an investigation by the INEC into reports that the computer hardware used in the elections was configured to favour the ruling PDP and work specifically against the CPC. Buhari did particularly well in the northern states, where poverty remains endemic.
However, in another report, General Buhari expressed satisfaction with the election, while speaking with journalists shortly after casting his vote, around 12.15 at Sarkin Yaran polling unit in Daura. He said to a reporter during an interview with the Daily Reporter, the system is okay but I have got reports from states across the nation indicating certain irregularities where some people have been accused of manipulating the ballot papers in their effort to destroy the election and win by any means, which is unfortunate.
The reporter then went on to ask him, are you thinking of going to court this time around? He replied, No, this time around, I will not go to court whatever the outcome of the election. But I do not know, maybe the party may decide to go to court and challenge the negative development.
It seems to me that for all the hard work that has gone into making these elections as transparent as possible, there are still some deep divisions both within the political parties and the people as a whole. As I have been watching these elections unfold for some time now, I had the feeling that the bulk of the Nigerian people were excited, even joyous that this time they would be taken seriously. People wanted to join in the process, they felt that their vote counted. What a shame that within 24 hours, the old corrupt Nigeria wants to poke it's nose in and send all of the country's hard work down the drain.
Unless the leaders of the main parties stand up and publicly declare that someone has won this election credibly, how on earth do they expect the rest of the world to take them seriously. This could turn out to be another bad day for African politics and politicians. I don't think, unless they sort this out quickly and with the minimum of bloodshed, they should bother considering the thought of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The leaders of each of the parties will have to ask themselves just how long they as a country can go on without any unity if they do not want the world to dismiss their claims as a grown up country.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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