The Nigeria Labour Congress on Wednesday congratulated both the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, and the out-going President, Goodluck Jonathan, for their historic roles in the just-concluded presidential elections.
The leadership of the Congress in a congratulatory message said Mr. Buhari’s victory over the incumbent has become a lesson in perseverance and commitment to a cause.
“As he joins the league of Presidents given a second chance, there are unusually great expectations from his country men and women which he can ill-afford not to meet,” the Congress stated.
Mr. Buhari’s election, the Congress noted, has opened a new and important chapter in the socio-political development of the country, particularly as the jinx of peacefully transiting from one democratically elected government controlled by a ruling party to one controlled by an opposition party has finally been broken.
For Mr. Jonathan, the NLC commended him for not only organising an election adjudged to be credible and fair, but also for promptly accepting its outcome, even though he lost.
“This is statesmanship and is in keeping with his oft-quoted phrase that his election into the office of President is not worth the blood of any Nigerian,” the Congress President, Ayuba Wabba, said.
The Congress urged Mr. Jonathan’s supporters to learn from his spirit of sportsmanship, saying this singular act would contribute in no small way in defining his place in Nigeria’s political history.
Beyond this, the NLC expressed the hope that the culture of accepting defeat by losers in political contests would continue to grow in the country’s democratic space.
Mr. Wabba attributed the successful conclusion of the presidential election to the patience, enthusiasm, resilience and determination of Nigerians to choose who governs them.
He said it was a demonstration of the people’s abiding faith in democracy and belief in Nigeria, pointing out that it marked the beginning of a new era in the country’s democratic experience where expectations are high.
In spite of some early glitches and imperfections in the voting process, Mr. Wabba said INEC, led by its Chairman, Attahiru Jega, managed to conduct a credible, transparent and acceptable election.
INEC, he said, deserved a special commendation, adding that there was no doubt that the exercise was a remarkable improvement on the previous elections it conducted.
He said not a few Nigerians attributed the success of the election to the determination of the electoral Commission to do the right thing, including the use of the card-readers, saying Nigerians were happy to be associated with the process.
Politicians, the Congress said, must learn to keep their promises to the electorate, pointing out that “when justice prevails in the land, threat to national security and well-being is minimized.”
He reminded the political parties that they were expected to have stronger internal governance structure where grievance management and accountability would be upheld.
The Congress, however, identified issues of hate campaigns and violation of campaign spending limit as the low points in the presidential election and stressed the need for INEC to correct the imperfections in the system.
The NLC president identified other anomalies to include non-availability/late arrival of electoral materials, delay in the voting process, failing card-reader machines, gaps in the filing and submission of electoral report sheets, saying all these have potential not only for negating the process but even jeopardising the result.
Noting the various roles played by Nigerians, the political parties, the electorate, security agencies, members of observer missions domestic and international, and the media, particularly for keeping the faith, the Congress said their vigilance ensured the election did not end in controversy.
Describing the election as the most keenly contested presidential election in the country’s history, the NLC said paid tribute to the victims of violent incidents, accidents or any other circumstance in pursuance of this election, especially the memory of the dead.
“They are the heroes and martyrs of our new-found democracy,” saying the least the new government could do in their memory would be to build upon the culture of democracy it has inherited.
On its part, the Congress said it looked forward to working with and engaging the incoming government, particularly the President-elect in defining a new agenda for the country.