Despite the flaws accompanying the February 25 presidential election, Nigeria has proved that democracy can work in Africa and has grown beyond military seizing powers using poorly conducted exercises as excuses.
This is the view of the Editorial Board of the Washington Post maintained in a piece titled: “Nigeria points the way toward democracy in a region in which it is scarce,” that the democratic process has held firm in the country far better than expected.
Tribune online reports that it pointed out that it is encouraging that the losing candidates are pursuing their claims through the courts. While the rhetoric has been heated, there have been no post-election violence, intimidation or threats.
“No one has blocked highways, as happened in Brazil after Jair Bolsonaro lost his reelection bid. Opposition party supporters have not attempted an insurrection,” the report posited.
It said: “Nigeria's military has stayed out of the fray. This was not a given, since Nigeria's generals ruled the country after a series of coups for most of the 1980s and '90s.
“In Africa and elsewhere, a supposedly flawed election has been a handy excuse for militaries to annul election results and seize power for themselves. It happened in Myanmar in early 2021, for example, despite no evidence of any fraud.
“If Nigeria's generals remain on the sidelines this time, it could be taken as evidence that Africa's most populous country, and its largest economy, has moved past its coup-prone history.”
According to the publication, while it might be tempting for opponents of democratic governance to take Nigeria as a case study of why democracy can't work in Africa, “Actually, the opposite is true.
In Nigeria, even with its chaotic and flawed process, the system has held and is holding — far better, so far, than might have been expected.”
It highlighted some of the problems encountered in the presidential poll including the collapse of the central result upload website, reports of scattered violence in a few places, with ballot boxes stolen at gunpoint and disappointing turnout.
The Washington Post maintained that even though Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party are challenging the result because of the problems and demanding a rerun, “that doesn't mean the vote should be discounted. In fact, much good came from it.”