It is not conclusive yet, and only INEC can declare, but so far, the facts speak for itself. For Buhari to beat Jonathan in Aso Rock Polling Unit; the die is cast!
In the history of elections in Nigeria, no ruling party has lost power at the centre. A number of incumbent governors have failed to get re-election mandate. Oyo State is a good example where no incumbent has been re-elected.
However, at the national level, the ruling or leading party has always had the upper hand. At his lecture on February 26 at Chatham House, London, APC Presidential Candidate, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), enthused that he was on his way to victory and Nigeria could join the ranks of African countries where the opposition won presidential elections and successfully took over as a plus for the growing democratisation of the African continent.
Experience in some African countries
Senegal, Mauritius, Ghana, Mali, Cote D’ Ivoire Lesotho and Benin Republic are some of the countries where some incumbents and ruling parties lost presidential elections to the opposition.
In Senegal, there was outrage over the eligibility of President Abdoulaye Wade for a third mandate with regard to the 2012 presidential elections.
On February 26, 2012, the Senegalese electorate went to the polls amid heightened political tension over the Constitutional Court’s ruling that allowed President Wade to run for a third term. The election was inconclusive with Wade winning about 35 percent of the votes while ex-Prime Minister Macky Sall finished second with 26.58 percent.
There was a run-off on March 25, 2012 where Macky Sall resoundingly defeated Abdoulaye Wade. It was the second time in 11 years that Senegalese voters removed an incumbent president from office. Most of the defeated first round candidates endorsed Sall in the run-off. Abdoulaye Wade acknowledged defeat and congratulated Sall on his victory prior to the release of official provisional results.
Ghana has had the unique scenario of allowing their presidents two terms and switching to the opposition. After transmuting into a civilian president, Ghanaian electorate allowed Jerry Rawlings and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) to do two-term of eight years.
Once Rawlings completed his constitutional and maximum term of eight years in 2000, Ghanaians voted in the opposition National Peoples Party (NPP) with John Kuffuor as President. He too did two terms and the voters returned NDC in 2008 with Atta Mills as president.
Atta Mills died in office, prompting John Mahama, his vice to be sworn-in as president to complete his tenure. Mahama stood for and won his own election on the platform of the NDC in 2012. In all the elections, there was smooth hand-over to the opposition.
The prevailing two-term per party scenario will be put to test in 2016 when Mahama is expected to seek re-election. If he wins, the NDC will be in the saddle for three straight terms and the jinx will be broken.
In Lesotho, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s newly-formed Democratic Congress (DC) faced its first electoral test in the May 26, 2012 polls.
The primary opposition challengers were the All Basotho Convention (ABC) led by Tom Thabane and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which Mosisili and his supporters deserted in February. Final results gave the DC 48 seats, followed by the ABC with 30, the LCD 26, and several smaller parties splitting the remainder. With no party obtaining the 61-seat majority necessary to form a government, the opposition parties seized the opportunity to end Mosisili’s 14-year rule. The ABC, LCD, and Basotho National Party (BNP) agreed to form a coalition government.
The election marked the first time that power had peacefully passed from an incumbent government to the opposition. Under the agreement, Thabane became Prime Minister and the post of Deputy Prime Minister went to LCD leader Mothethoa Metsing.
In Benin Republic, long time and veteran leader, Mathieu Kérékou was made to bite the dust in 1991 after a long reign. Born September 2, 1933, Kérékou was president from 1972 to 1991 and again from 1996 to 2006. After seizing power in a military coup, he ruled the country for 17 years, for most of that time under an officially Marxist-Leninist ideology, before he was stripped of his powers by the National Conference of 1990. He was defeated in the 1991 presidential election but was returned to the presidency in the 1996 election and controversially re-elected in 2001.
Cote D’ Ivoire
In Cote D’ Ivoire, the opposition won but the ruling party refused to handover peacefully leading to deadly conflicts. The conflict that followed former President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power after losing the 2010 presidential polls led to more than 3,000 deaths and the displacement of nearly one million Ivorians. It ended with Gbagbo’s arrest and the inauguration of the internationally recognized presidential winner, Alassane Ouattara. The development rekindled politically motivated disputes over nationality and ethnicity.
Will APC do it in Nigeria?
For the first time in a long while, Nigeria is witnessing what most observers consider a very tight race between the PDP and opposition APC. The development has forced the party in government to be on their toes, criss-crossing the length and breadth of the country consulting and campaigning with the President spending more times in South West that has the potential to determine who wins. Leaders of both parties have been locked in claims and counter-claims on their chances of winning.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP enjoys power of incumbency which has been to the advantage of his party since reintroduction of democracy in 1999.
This trend which appeared to be slipping before the postponement before the election date postponement will be tested today against APC, arguably the biggest mega opposition ever in Nigeria. It is to be seen whether or not the ruling party would maintain the tradition in a free and fair election or lose the mandate for the first time to the opposition. And if it loses, will the ruling party cede power peacefully? And will APC accept defeat and give peace a chance if it loses? Time will tell but LET THERE BE PEACE.