By Aaron Ossai
The Deputy president of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure his administration not only conducts a credible, free and fair election next year, but also be prepared to accept in good faith, the outcome of the election should he and his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) fail to win next year’s presidential contest.
This was even as he decried the sit-tight syndrome in Africa, which he described as a grave danger to African democracies.
He gave the admonition while speaking at the Parliament of the United Kingdom (UK), where he delivered a lecture titled “African Politics: The Dynamics and Lessons”.
Drawing inspiration from the words of the former South African president, late Nelson Mandela, Ekweremadu noted that his admonition became necessary owing to the pivotal and strategic roles Nigeria is playing in Africa, insisting that for the African continent to be respected by the rest of the world, Nigeria must not only lead the way, but also earn the respect of the world.
“Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan put Nigeria on the global map as a leading democratic nation when he put in everything to ensure a free and fair election, in which he not only lost the presidential poll as an incumbent, but also willingly conceded defeat.
“In fact, he called the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, and congratulated him even before the announcement of the final results. In addition, neither former President Jonathan nor the PDP challenged the outcome of the election in court.
“Therefore, to whom much is given, much is also expected. The onus is now on President Buhari to likewise provide a level playing ground and show uncommon statesmanship if he and his party lose the 2019 presidential election. That way, Africa’s biggest democracy will further entrench the culture of peaceful and smooth transfer of power from a ruling party to the opposition in both Nigeria and Africa.
“Any attempt to manipulate the 2019 elections to the advantage of self or party will not augur well for peace and democracy not only in Nigeria, but the entire continent. God forbid”.
“Important too, in the present age of technology, I will like to see the countries of Africa deploying the latest technology in voter registration, vote counting, and announcement of results.
“We must ensure that the process is sufficiently transparent and unarguably so, such that losers will see and be convinced that they lost fairly. That way, election tribunals will be eliminated”, he said.
Ekweremadu admonished African leaders to respect term limits, regretting that “Many African leaders do not seem to care about the law of diminishing returns, but you can never cheat nature”.
He observed: “From Zimbabwe under former Robert Mugabe to Uganda under Yoweri Museveni, Cameroon Paul Biya; Equatorial Guinea under Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been in power since 1979; Republic of Congo under Denis Sassou Nguesso who ruled from 1979 to 1992 and returned again since 1997; and not also forgetting Togo under late President Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the country for 38 years and now under his son, Faure Gnassingbe, who continued from where his father stopped amidst rising political tension, the story has not been pleasant.
“Likewise, the sit-tight postures of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s 28 years old regime in Sudan, President Idriss Deby’s 27-year rule in Chad, President Isaias Afwerki’s 24 years old leadership in Eritrea, President Paul Kageme’s 17 years old reign in Rwanda, and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika 18 years in power in Algeria are soul-dampening.
“There are also emerging sit-tight regimes in Mauritania under Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, Burundi under Pierre Nkurunziza, etc. President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who succeeded his father, the late Laurent Kabila, in 2001, has refused to step down after the expiration of his mandate. This has triggered political tension and protests in that country. This is disheartening”.