Nigeria has a new president! And he is a familiar face, former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari. After three unsuccessful attempts at presiding over Africa’s biggest economy, the Katsina-born retired military general is back at the saddle.
Accelerate TV gives an insight on the long and tortuous journey of a man whose second coming has raised the hope of many Nigerians.
It all began on the 11th of December 2014, when the APC held their Presidential Primaries. Well, technically, it began 12 years ago when Gen Muhammadu Buhari first ran for Presidency, or even 72 years ago when he was born, but for the purpose of this, let’s say it began after he emerged as his party’s flag-bearer for the 2015 polls.
The keenly contested primaries that had heavyweights like former VP Atiku Abubakar, Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, Gov Rochas Okorocha of Imo state and Sam Nda-Isaiah saw the former general win by a landslide. And thus the journey to Aso Rock – Nigeria’s seat of power began.
The nation heaved a sigh – but not of relief. Majority of the people wanted the elections done with so they could get back to their various businesses. But for the frontline candidates – President Jonathan and General Buhari, it was time to restrategize and work towards garnering the most votes on the new 28th of March date. And so, while the campaigns that had reached a crescendo prior to the postponement suffered a slight decline, it soon picked up momentum and kept rising till D-Day.
#NigeriaDecides was the official hashtag for the March 28th polls. Voter turnout was low in some places and high in others, and compared to previous polls, the election witnessed minimal violence and electoral malpractices. Due to the challenges experienced by some voters via the malfunctioning of the Card Readers introduced to limit rigging, the election extended to Sunday 29th March. Collation of results eventually began at the INEC HQ, and on the 1st of April 2015, after collating a total of 29,432,083 votes and ascertaining that 28,587,564 of them were valid, the results were announced. Gen Buhari received a total of 15,424,921 votes, while President Jonathan received 12,853,162 votes, and thus the former Military Head of State was returned elected.
One cannot forget all the things that happened during the course of this epic journey to Aso Rock. From the heated debates, mind-numbing online and offline politicking, to Zahra Buhari breaking the internet with just 2 pictures and a few tweets. From the very popular hashtag trends like#ForwardNigeria, #iHaveDecided, #FeBuhari and #BabaWhileYouWereGone to the absolutely foolish ones like #ISISBuhari. From the incredibly calm Professor Attahiru Jega to his alter-opposite, the good Elder Godswill Orubebe. From the morbid fears of possible post-election violence to one of the greatest calls ever made in the history of cellphones in Africa – where an incumbent president conceded defeat and congratulated the winner before the official results were even announced; the last few months have been a nostalgic mix of emotions ranging from happiness, sadness, depression and indifference to complete hilarity.
All that culminates today, May 29, 2015, as a new president is sworn in. And while we know he is not a magician, we hope that the next four years will see Nigeria become a very much better place, where the interests of the majority come first and corruption is at its lowest.
Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan has already arrived his hometown in Otuoke, Bayelsa State after he formally handover to President Muhammadu Buhari.