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By Professor Femi Ajayi
The good news from the modern world that Barack Hussein Obama has been re-elected for the second term as the President of the United States of America is really good news, especially for the African leaders to rethink of their responsibilities to their people. The analysts were on the precipice that the election would be close; nonetheless, it is obvious that America politics has interestingly focused on issues.
Obama polled 303 Electoral votes and 56,249,290, that is, 50% of the popular votes. While his opponent, Mitt Romney polled 206 Electoral votes amounted to 54,804,177 votes making up of 49% of the popular votes.
Novice of American politics would be wondering how Obama won with the neck breaking of 50% to 49% of the popular vote. In the 2011 Nigeria Presidential election, PDP polled 22,495,187 votes, 58.89%; CPC polled 12,214,853; 31.98%; while ACN polled 5.41%. Its interpretations by the actors then still linger in the Nigeria community till today (November 2012), with the birth of Boko Haram.
Nigeria loves and admires good things; disappointingly, its leaders have not produced something of emulation except poverty, ethnic divide, religious bigotry, egocentric policies, and CORRUPTION.
Racism is becoming a thing of the past in the United States of America. The days of Feudalism, Monarchical, Despotic ruling is gradually ending in Nigeria. Do not get me wrong, discrimination is in human blood which shows in every race, even within the same ethnic group.
In this Century, racism or ethnicity should be used as a unifying factor in Nigeria, as America is nailing bigotry coffin. Obama is an original African. His election for the first time (2008) could be labelled as a mistake; or that America was not ready for a female President against Hillary Clinton, a Democrat; or America needed a younger generation in the White House as against McCain, a Republican.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Muktar, refused to swear-in Ifeoma Jumbo-Ofo as a justice of the Court of Appeal because of her state of origin, with the excuse, that she is taking the slot meant for Abia. Ifeoma is originally from Anambra State, married to an Abia loving husband, a Nigerian. It is a way of desecrating the marriage norm that a female could not claim the State of her husband in Nigeria. It is another embarrassment and disgrace to the progress the world is making with the world becoming a global village, learning from Obama’s re-election.
Ethnicity is still something that is dividing the country. The world is rapidly changing Nigerians are being treated like slaves in their own country while some Nigeria leaders consider themselves untouchables. The people need individual leaders that would address their issues with passion. Being sportsmanship brings about progress. At the end of the exhaustive campaign from both sides, Romney, without mincing words, conceded in a sober tone. Romney stated, “I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. This is a time of great challenges to America, and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and posturing.” Mr Obama congratulated Mr Romney and Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan on their hard-fought campaign, stated that, “We have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come, more determined, and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do, and the future that lies ahead. We are an American family and we rise and fall together as one nation. I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started. Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests. There’s a lot more work to do. But for right now; thank you.” How many of Nigerian leaders would make such statements after an election? PDP is advising the opposition parties to learn how to accept defeat, calling them bad losers. It is confusing to the students of American presidential system for PDP to be referring to opposing parties as opposition. There is no opposition party in the Presidential system.
Ignorantly, PDP also has determined to go to Court to challenge LP for winning the governorship election with its 28% of the votes as opposed to the LP 56 % of the total votes won by LP. Its fellow ‘loser’, ACN, collected 26% of the votes cast. PDP is in the same boat of being a bad loser that has refused to accept defeat in the October 2012 Ondo governorship election.
The two strange bed fellows, ACN and CPC are on the throat of PDP, referring to PDP as an obstacle to democracy in Nigeria. CPC baptized violence after the 2011 election; created an avenue for the remnants of the political thugs which translated into Boko Haram today (November 2012). Which of the Political Party created an obstacle to democracy in Africa, especially when CPC refused to accept defeat? All Nigeria political parties must learn how to accept defeat in good faith.
Ironically, some Nigeria leaders have not risen to the full moral height of their positions. Sometimes you wonder how Nigeria politicians approach their desires to render services to the country. In good spirit the people have spoken, they should wait for another time or find something positive to do. Nigerians are expecting wise and humane leaders, without hatred of liberty and contempt of law, to lead the country.
Immediately after the election, Obama is ready for the unfinished business, getting stronger than before on what he has to do for Americans. Obama pledged to work with Republican leaders in Congress to reduce the government’s budget, deficit, fix the tax code, and reform the immigration system. Obama is refusing to postpone the issues till the next Congress, especially on tax payment by the wealthy Americans, saying that it would be done this Session. What an effective use of the Executive order, nor for himself, but for the common people, addressing their concerns.
Some Nigerian leaders are either afraid of power or too naive to use it. Obasanjo recognized and used its power effectively with solid plans as to where Nigeria should be as opposed to the departure. I doubt if Jonathan realizes his power as number one Nigeria citizen. Nonetheless, Obasanjo goofed in his local politics.
The process of election in the States makes it very easy for the analysts to give accurate prediction of election outcome. Definitely, there are some States that would go certain way in the Presidential elections, while some States swing their votes. Presidential candidates focus on the States that will give them high Electoral Votes to win, which comes with the designation of battle states.
Election logistics is still a challenge in Nigeria. Its process calls for better organization. INEC, under Professor Jega is improving but not perfect. America election process never claims to be perfect. It is still undergoing growing based on the changes in the environment; even the Electoral College.
When Jimmy Carter, in 1977, proposed a constitutional amendment for the direct popular election of the President, he gave new impetus to a cause that goes back at least to Andrew Jackson. Carter reason was to “ensure that the candidate chosen by the voters actually becomes President. Under the electoral college, it is always possible that the winner of the popular vote will not be elected.” It happened in 1824, with Quincy Adams, 1876, Hayes rigged by the Commission, and 1888 Benjamin Harrison. Neither candidate received a majority with the gap between them was 95,000 votes. The last president to lose the popular vote and win the electoral vote was George W. Bush in 2000, following a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a recount dispute that put Florida in his column.
Electoral College is the vermiform addendum in the American body politic. It was a last minute addition to the Constitution of the USA; it is Art. 23 of the twenty-five Articles of the original United States Constitution. It installs a mystic agency between the electorate and the President. It is impossible to explain to foreigners. Even Americans don’t understand it.
Electoral College systematically distorts the popular vote. The Electoral College allotted electoral votes for the State to equal the number of members of the House of Representatives with their Senators as the number of votes the States would cast for the President if he wins that State. It means that all the votes go to the winner of their State election. If no candidate receives a majority in the Electoral College, the election is thrown into the House of Representatives where States take the vote. I believe only 2 States could split their votes.
It was expected that the Electoral College could canvass the candidates and truly make a selection. In fact, the electors have come to pledge or bound by law to designated candidates, and their ballots are sheer formality.
The independent media houses called the election as it occurred and were able to project the outcomes without biases. In Nigeria, it would be a different ball game entirely as their sponsors would give the public very wrong impression of what was happening. Some would blow a single issue out of proportion.
Obama respond to Romney after he conceded that, “We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together. You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything you’ve done and all the incredible work that you’ve put in.”
From such statements, do we see such spirit in Nigeria leaders as most of them have turned themselves into semi-demi-remi-tin-gods? Are they really rulers or leaders in the country? When will they start addressing the issues that affect Nigerians as a collective bargaining for retaining their jobs and positions entrusted on them?
Unfortunately, Nigeria leaders are mirrors of how other nations perceive Nigerians. Bribes are offered before you get government services, Halliburton case is still pending. Fake products found their ways into the country; thanks to NAFDAC that minimized the importation of fake drugs most especially.
At every single disagreement, the next step is to vandalize public, and in some cases private facilities and properties. Meanwhile the leaders watch the ruffians; Boko Haram is on rampage while the toothless Federal Government is reportedly negotiating with the masquerade.
Cleaning up the country of corruption, identifying petroleum industry as the incubator of corruption in Nigeria, the President reluctance to use some points Ribadu raised in the Task Force report is nauseating to most Nigerians. The cabals have hijacked the Petroleum Task Force report, made some disrespectful statements that turned the President into a myopic leader. A member of the committee never attended their meetings, does not leave in Nigeria, never made any contributions, but possibly has the eyes and ears of the President, flew into the country the morning of the Committee report presentation to the President, to derail the report.
Unfortunately, frustrating good policies at the expense of good Nigerians make a mockery of the leaders in Nigeria. Nigerian leaders are mirrors of Nigerians.
Losing an election is not the end of the world for the losers. It is good to be patriotic by accepting the people’s verdict regardless the pain and cost of the campaigns.
Romney, who has written 1,118-word “victory speech”; set up transition team; and website, with motorcade waiting outside his Hotel for the victory party, graciously conceded to honor the people’s verdict. The Website appeared online on Wednesday November 7, 2012 and was taken down immediately, which is normal.
Romney and his supporters did not turn that into violence. He swallowed his pride and respects the will of the people. The mindset of Americans was not in setting the country ablaze for Romney’s loss.
In Nigeria, it would be chaotic as witnessed in the 2011 Presidential election; while the CPC leader was mute about his supporters’ violent reactions to the loss, which later graduated into Boko Haram. Boko Haram leaders have asked Buhari to represent their interest in dialoguing with the Federal Government in Saudi Arabia. An average Nigerian would not believe his denial that he was not aware of the members of the Boko Haram at this stage. It is only an imbecile that would buy his ideas that he has no knowledge of who are behind Boko Haram.
If we may close our discussion on the lessons from Obama victory, we would borrow from Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s speech made at the first press conference he held at Ikenne on 4th August 1966, after his release from prison, on what can unite the country;
“In concrete terms, it is my firm belief that until we provide employment, free education from primary to university level, and health services, for all our citizens; the problem of unity will continue to plague us. And in this connection I hasten to predict that the breaking up of Nigeria into a number of sovereign states will not only do permanent damage to the reputation of contemporary Nigerian leaders, but will usher in terrible disasters which will bedevil us and many generations to come. Fortunately, with truly scientific and illuminated planning, all these social objectives can be ours in the immediate future. My appeal in this connection, therefore, is for unity and scientific planning.”
In essence, the only way out is to unite the country under true Federalism and continue to support whosoever wins a contested election without creating room for the electorates to cause confusion and riots after election. Be sportsmanship.
Obama re-election is a victory for WORLD PEACE.


Professor Femi Ajayi is Head, Political Science and Public Administration Department, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State

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