Lessons

Democracy developing before our very eyes, still imperfect, but what can literacy not do?

The 2023 elections have arrived with huge impacts in our political sphere, Lagos, for the first, was not won by the City Boy, and a sitting President lost his home state to the opposition. Despite huge outcries concerning the result transmissions and the unsatisfactory result manipulation from certain zones and the comparatively low turnout despite the hype before the election, it did show a huge maturity in our democracy.

First and foremost was the redefining of how campaigns are done and how elections are won. The cold grasp of godfatherism has started inevitably waning as more and more people become educated, the organizational structure that enabled it has shattered, and social media will no longer be ignored as a fake metric for measuring electoral outcomes but a huge campaign avenue for people able to use and convince it’s users.

Lagos, for instance, has been under the influence of organizational structure-politics since 1999; a structure run and controlled by one man, he (even at the very height of rival federal control) had somehow maintained his grasp on the country’s commercial capital, choosing it’s governor’s since his tenure elapsed in 2007, his words were law in the state, and he ripped a lot of benefits from it. Fast forward to 2023, and it is alleged that he lost the state by almost half a million votes while running for the highest office in the land.

In the South East, a region that had been religiously loyal to a unity party formed by one of their biggest statesman (Alex Ekwueme) electing the party gubernatorial candidates in 4 of the five states in the region for more than 20 years and had massively supported it’s presidential candidates even though it had never picked a candidate from the region. Suffering lately from the latest president due to their deliberate and incessant snub of his political career, in 2023, the region decided it was probably time they got a candidate to challenge for the nation’s top executive position.

And the party failed woefully, playing sentimental safe politics, they chose a candidate who they felt would surely give them a landslide victory in the northern part of the country since his main Nemesis had just finished his tenure, angering the block of eastern voters who had been religiously loyal since the party’s formation, it was the last straw leading to several southeastern prominent politicians to leave the party and with them went the block votes the party had enjoyed for more than 20 years.

It was swept under the carpet, believing that the old political system was still in full effect. Boy, were they wrong! It’s no longer a secret that so many didn’t give the new third force any chance of winning; they had no sitting governor, no senator or honorable member, not even an L.G.A chairman anywhere in the whole country, judging by the old political order, they had zero chances as the sitting governor of the candidate’s home state put it, it was impossible that he would get 25% in even four states, “where is Labour in this country” quipped one of the leading candidates.

However, social media, which up to this point had been ridiculed and rightly so, had no polling units, and the “majority” of the voters were not on social media; those there were very unlikely to even undergo the stress of going out to vote, in 2019, it looked like the incumbent president was going to lose on social media; still, he won convincingly.

But four years is a long time, and these four years were not necessarily the same; from the EndSars protest to the Covid mismanaging, coupled with the two prolonged ASUU strikes, Nigerians had undergone possibly the worst four years of leadership incompetence in the nation’s history.

So this time, the three or four people tweeting in a room were actually ready to vote, and they did so; the party that betrayed its loyal voters was hit hard, losing most of their senatorial and representative seats in the region and gaining the lowest votes they had ever had in the region.

So as the third force assembles evidence to go to court to recover the allegedly stolen mandate, it is important to remember the huge significance of what happened, never had anybody dreamed of achieving what he just did, galvanizing the new generation of Nigerian hopefuls as no other politician has ever dreamed of doing, winning an impressive 12 states and gaining more than 6 million votes for now. A year ago, all these were considered impossible.

Conclusively, the real winners of this election remain our budding democracy; as it grows with the slowly rising literacy level of our society at large, accountability becomes the norm, and competent candidates become more and more likely to win elections without the aid of traditional organizational structure which in most cases prove to be very corrupt.

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